When a letter gets a reply

I have personally experienced how invigorating it can be to receive a response to a letter. Sometimes, it becomes an obligation to reply back to; but more often than not, there is immense pleasure in holding that beautiful piece of paper. As many, or as few, as the number of words may be, just the fact that it is only and only written for me makes it as special as one of my favourite books, and more touching than any piece of content I lay my eyes on through the day, sitting before this almost morbid carbon-based liquid crystal display screen. It’s ironic how much more life a static piece of Paper can hold against our dynamic Smart Screens.

If you remember, we wrote of the day Nandita and I spent with Mr. Zameer, the postman, on his beat at Infantry Road, Bangalore. Thanks to his impeccable relationship with his customers (so to say), we were introduced to Ms. Maureen, the Principal of one of the oldest and highly prestigious schools on Infantry Road – Tunbridge High School. Ms. Maureen was kind enough to lend us an ear, and was very thrilled by the idea of making students write. And all this was much before we discovered that she and I come from the same small town, and grew up on the very same Elgin Road (as they once called it) in Allahabad – Oh, what a small world! I never thought of the number of ways in which a postman can possibly connect people. My imagination was really just restricted to letters!

With this small postal introduction, we carried the good thought into another one of the letter writing activities, at their school, in the first week of July. As two sections of the 7th standard squeezed into one classroom, comfortably (or not) sharing a bench among three students, we made our usual introduction about letters and got the kids interested.

Many a meaningful letter were penned thoughtfully by these teenagers. While some were beautiful expressions of love, some others were thought provoking words of patriotism.

And then, a couple of weeks back, I got a call from Ms. Maureen, who was kind enough to share a little bit of excitement running around in her school with me.

One of the students had got a reply. And it was not just any reply; it was one from the Prime Minister!

While the student himself had got the reply laminated by the time I could make another trip to the school, many more students had been inspired to get their thoughts out into the postbox. When I went to the school last week, Mr. Biswas, the Headmaster, and Ms. Maureen, were both very positive of the impact of a few yellow postcards on the 7th graders, and shared how many more of them now want to write.

When I bumped into one of the students from the class, near the principal’s office, as he recognized me from the previous interaction, I spoke to him to discover a sense of disappointment in his words, as to why only one student got a reply, while many others had written. Well, I had to turn that around into a positive frame, somehow or the other (I now see why it’s okay for parents to lie to their kids sometimes!). And at the end of it, there he was, asking me to get a few postcards with me on my next visit to the school, and enquiring how to find some himself.

That’s the power of a letter.
It can make us express. It can make us think.
It can create relationships, sometimes even out of nothing. It can spread love. It can induce a smile.
It can make us believe.