In school, far away from our families, the only means of news reaching each other was through letters. In fact, in junior school, every Friday, the last two periods was officially the “letter writing” time. We would write religiously & the letter was devotedly same. We started with “My dear Mummy & Daddy” and ended with “Yours Lovingly”…. In between there were four paragraphs, the first declaring that “I am hale & hearty” and I pray to the Almighty of all near & dear ones “sailing in the same boat”. The second paragraph was for general happening of the week at school, the third & the shortest paragraph for the “Sunday movie” and the fourth giving the details of the weather. Oh, since we had “nothing more to pen down” we closed the letter sealed it with a kiss! This was a ritual every Friday till class V. As time passed by, letters became shorter, frequency became longer & very naturally the content kept changing from letter to the frequency of it. To ensure letter writing remained a religious activity, every house had a Letter Writing In-charge whose job was to collect letters every Friday from every class, count it to the number of students in the class, report shortage to the House Master & handover the letters to the Head Masters’ Office Bearer to post the letters.
No one complained. because it was as much fun writing those letters as not writing & bribing the Letter Writing In-charge which made the House Master run behind you & finally writing a letter himself that “your ward has been penalized for not writing to you”. The penalty was no pocket money for the Saturday Tuck Man. What was funny that time was that there were guys who went through various magazines to make “pen-pals” & regularly exchange letters, but would avoid writing letters to their parents. It seems even more surprising that we would spend more than four to five months without hearing the voices of our parents & siblings sitting & waiting at home for us to come on vacation. There was a year in between when students refused to go on vacation stating it was very hot in summers “down in the plains”!! How selfish could we get? Or was it simply bliss of being in heaven? May be both….
Times changed, we went to college. Parents started giving us extra pocket money so that we could go to the nearest STD Booth & call them regularly. The same routine ensued. Initially we would call them religiously twice a week, one working day and every Saturday night or Sunday morning. This slowly became once-a-week call, which progressively became once a fortnight. However, the “extra” pocket money never stopped.
Mobile phones changed the way we started communicating. There were parents who could not afford two mobiles. They bought one and gave it to their bright young child. To save money & inconvenience to the child, they would call and beg her/him to pick the call whenever they did so. Guess, times change, people don’t. Initially, we picked calls regularly. Then we would pick and cut short the conversation stating some excuse. At times, we have not even picked calls from our parents saying we are in no mood to talk to anyone! Some would type in an SMS saying, “am busy, will give a missed call later”. But we never forget forwarding SMSes to each other, sometimes useful, mostly a non-sense sentimental message or some joke & sometimes just a smiley!! Forwarding an SMS means you are remembering that person in that short moment & “keeping in touch” in a way. Communication has surely become fast. But it’s getting based on forwards, more often…
I want to rewind to the times when we would play at leisure and not live life on fast forward mode….
– Kanishka Mallick (1996 Batch)
1990s Correspondence Kanishka Mallick Letters