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I have spent this afternoon looking through old letters.
I have always saved letters, and personal greeting cards.
From the first mothers day card from my children to the hundreds of letters my
parents wrote to me.
My father had the most elegant handwriting. He chose the
fountain pen and the paper carefully. Having learnt his English in a British
prep school and then Cambridge,
he had the most wonderful turn of phrase. He was very well read and a scholar
of Persian and Arabic too. He often quoted the poetry of the ancient Persian
poets and philosophers. In one such letter he has quoted the poet Roomi. Who
compares the hardships and sadness in life to a hangover. According to the poet
when we drink wine (happiness) we do not think of the consequences. But
everything has a price.
In the same letter my father says that in ancient Hindu
custom, where one son was given to another religion, as a way of thanks for the
good fortunes of the family, and for their continuation. According to Dad,
since he had such wonderful life in the West, and “drank a lot of happiness”,
he considered that he had given me up to
the west. Since he had, no sons.
My mother was a poet. She wrote beautiful Urdu and Persian.
She took great pride in her languages. Her hand writing was so measured and
beautiful, that someone likened it to an arrangement of pearls. Her letters
were always full of family news and gossip.
I used to get all the news, of marriages, deaths and births
in our extended family. She also told me about the world of literature in her
part of the world.
Where as my fathers letters had comments, on the world affairs and the local politics.
I used to look forward to those blue envelopes. My only
contact with my past, neatly packaged in
an air mail envelope. It used to arrive bearing promise of an indulgent half an
hour. When I would ceremoniously open it, and read and re read those letters.
Looking at them this afternoon, I was filled with sadness,
and a renewed sense of loss. Alas I will not be leaving such a legacy to my
children. It is all emails and text messages which are wiped away to vacate the
computers memory, along with the memory
of the recipient. To make room for other things.
Now all I have is memories, and when the sadness wrenches my
heart, I sit down and write, and share it with you all. Perhaps that is why we
blog. To share our inner most thoughts.
But they will not be preserved, they will be wiped out. If I
wrote long letters to my children, am sure they will not have the time to sit
and read them and cherish.
I feel so empty.