Sunday, June 24, 2012 (redux)


Last night, when I called my father, among other things, he spoke about this person Jack (name changed not to protect identity, but I actually forgot what his name was, it was a little difficult to pronounce - hehehe. So I'm going with a name which would fit almost any American face. Ok, I'm seriously hoping no American is reading this post - and even if he is, he'd be large hearted enough to laugh it away. I digress. What was I saying? Oh yeah, my dad. He was speaking about this guy, Jack, who he knew more than 3 - 4 decades ago, when he'd (my father) gone there for a scientific convention. They'd hit it off almost instantly, though he was several years older to my father, and thereon began a beautiful friendship spanning the seven seas, to use the archetypal expression, and also several years. And what exactly brought about this discussion? Well, you see, yesterday happened to be that person's birthday. And my dad was laughing that had he still been around, he'd have had absolutely no problem reaching him. An email, or a comment left on his Facebook page, and that's it. The wish would've reached him. And in the same breath he also added - "But I still would've preferred sending him a card."

My dad got onto the Facebook bandwagon a little late in the day, and I'm still not sure if he's enjoying the ride. He'd once joked that 'bandwagon' was the right expression because he still felt it was a little bumpy for him. :)

Anyway, the whole discussion about Jack brought back my memories about a post I'd written here a few years back. I'm re-posting it here. Just felt like.


Back in those days when we didn't have email attachments with pictures of us and our family members grinning away those mega pixels taken on that 'smaller-than-my-palm' cyber-shots, when we didn't have messengers and skypes and what-have-yous, we had something that connected directly with our hearts: Picture post cards. You had this lovely sunset from somewhere, which you held lovingly in your fingers, and turned the card around to read even more lovingly, the scribbled letters of a friend, thousands of miles away. You probably received the card a month after the season shown in the card, but you didn't 'delete' the post card. You adorned it lovingly on your loving black n white TV, for the world to see, that you had a dear friend overseas who sent you lovely colorful picture post-cards.

My father was one such lucky person. And he received his card from a colleague who he'd befriended while on a trip abroad. He'd receive the cards every christmas and new year, sometimes even out of the blue...and read out the tiny, scrawly letter etched on the back of the card to us. Sometimes, he'd get a full letter in an envelope. The letter even smelled good! And we kids would pride at the fact that dad had an 'American' friend.

We received countless cards and letters, until one year they just stopped coming. Just like that. Stopped (much before the internet and emails...even STD calls). We spoke about it for a year or two and then carried on with life. One day, last year, we remembered this friend and wondered what would've made the guy stop writing.

"I guess, he passed away," my dad said quietly. I'm sure he'd even shed a teeny-weeny tear later when we were out of his sight.

In truth, this might really have been the case. Because he was the only person in that circle who my father knew. We didn't know his relatives, friends, common acquaintances, or whereabouts, we didn't know his changed address, if any (father tried writing to him years back, but the letters just returned to him).

Recently I even Googled him out for father, came up with a couple of close matches, but perished the thought, because of the age differences. I guess he really did pass away. But just think - at least for father, his very existence depended on just the cards and letters he wrote; the wishes he sent across the oceans.

Now, if only there was an email service to and from heaven...


Bikramjit said...

yes sire a email service from heaven would be so nice at least we will know if our near and dear ones are doing ok.

I myself havea similar story I use to have a friend when i was in school , at one of the events held in delhi a couple of international schools had come , I made friends with this guy in UK, and we exchanged letter for years and years .. I was in 8th then , schooling then college , then masters all this years we were in touch and suddenly the letter stopped .. I had not news as I had no other contact..

then I happened to come to visit uk too, I wnt to that school and slowly and steadily I managed to find out about this person , sadly he had met with an accident and passed away. It broke my heart

Mystical Skeptical Me said...

Recently, as I was cleaning out my cupboard, I found old old old greeting cards and letters...and the's a weird kind of knot...that forms in your heart. Letters and words written by hand, have their own immortal effect.

I really loved the post...I wish there was some way to know, if your dad's friend was around. :) :) If only, as you said, there was an email service to heaven. :)

Blessed Be!

Vidya said...

Takes me back to a post in an earlier blog of mine- the postman in his khakhi uniform and the bundle of letters used to be such a welcome sight!
I wonder what happened to Jack. The uncertainity is always haunting....

phatichar said...

Bikram: Really sorry to hear about your departed friend :(

MSM: I exactly know that feeling - Whenever I find such old greeting cards/letters, I forget all about the cleaning and walk down memory lane with these cards in hand.

About dad's friend, yeah, we do wish we knew what happened to him. Maybe some day....

Vidya: Ah, the khakhi-clad postman 'uncle'. :) I wonder what happened to them. Maybe one day I'll catch hold of an elderly postman and ask him about his journey.

Shreya said...

I used to have a pen friend as a kid...and it was amazing...writing her a letter, posting it, waiting for months for a response...It's completely different from emailing someone on the move with all of 2 minutes of thought!

And then the letters stopped. I dont even know if it was my lapse or hers. But as a result, today, I have no clue where she is, how she is, what she's doing.

It's a weird weird feeling.

the little princess said...

letters..ahh..ha! nothing compares to the joy of writing a letter and even greater joy of receiving one! believe it or not, i have a stack of letters that I have still kept bundled up and keep going back to reading them when Im blue! It cheers me up like nothing else can.

and you know what? my dad's prized possession is a blue inland cover which was his mom's last letter to him! he just lights up whenever he reads that! such moments can never be there with an e-mail or a facebook update.

Kanthu said...

Written words(not typed, mind you) always have a magic in them. It brings the memories of the person quicker and much clearly. My mom used to write to my grandparents when I was very young and the happiness in her face when she got one from them is still pretty fresh in my mind.

On the other side, the only letter I had ever written was to my dad. To come soon and take us back from my grandparents' place. I got very bored staying there during the summer holidays...:P

cmus said...

Touching. :)

Written words have that personal touch which makes us (at least me) feel as though we were conversing, face to face.

phatichar said...

Shreya: really is a weird feeling when the letters/cards just stop.

Princess: :) Thanks for sharing that..

Kanthu: :)

cmus: Yes..agree totally. Thanks. :)

Me said...

I guess the true emotions we all shared through that cards, letters, air mail or postcards is all gone. Now it is all about time saving, money saving and probably even the emotion sending messages at the click of a button. The charm and magic is lost. I still have a box filled with old cards I had received on various occasions from my loved ones and it happens to be one of my most precious possessions!

Loved this trip down the memory lane!