The Lost Art Of Letter Writing

Dear ‘The-Person-Who-Is-Imagining-Their-Name-Here’,

Let me begin by asking you, on a scale of 1-10, how sad are you about the fact that the only letters you’ve written till now were addressed to an imaginary editor running an imaginary newspaper with a fairyland-like address (Castle No.142, Wonderland) about an issue you didn’t give a damn about?

(I hope that’s not very mean for a start. But you also may not have ever written a physical letter to someone.)

I want to begin this letter by telling you about the item I last added to my Bucket List, titled “Yellow” –

Purchase a Yellow Pages Book of Scotland (It’s my favourite country on Earth since its official animal is a Unicorn). Close your eyes. Open a random page from the book. Let your fingers run over the page and select an address. Now post an actual letter inside a yellow envelope on this very address. Don’t be afraid of the idea that the letter might lie forever on the doorstep of an abandoned house or that you may never receive a reply. Just be glad about the fact that out there, in the wide wild universe, is a piece of you that’s true.

Not many of us were ardent admirers of writing letters since the beginning. It may have something to do with those English classes, where the teacher made sure that we had the format of an informal letter on our tips but never really encouraged us to post an actual letter. Or maybe it had something to do with those dreadful topics on which we were asked to write letters during examinations. “Wait. Am I actually supposed to write a letter to my brother wishing him luck for the Spell Bee Competititon? Don’t these people know about how I place my dibs on him losing, every single time?”

And then, on a fateful day in 2013, I posted my first letter to a person I had met just a few days back. I don’t remember what I wrote inside but I have a faint memory of drawing patterns and pasting stickers of Winnie-The-Pooh or Strawberry Shortcake (please don’t judge me) on the edges of the sheet. When I asked him what details must I write on the envelope, I realised that the format they taught us in school was meant to be used on a planet called ‘We-Don’t-Write-Letters-Here’. The best bit was hopping back from the Courier office and waiting patiently for a letter to be slid under your door. Gradually, their letters became my most cherished memories of someone.


I am reminded that we have been kinder and more open to one another in these letters than we have been in person or on the phone. I suspect we are making a record, or a map, in these letters that a phone call would undermine. Perhaps it forces us to slow down and examine what we want and what we say. I thought the other day that whatever happens finally between us, these letters represent the best of us. It is easy to talk things away. I want to talk with you in a slower world.

Nothing would describe the beauty of writing to someone better than this quote from The Letters by Luanne Rice and Joseph Monninger.

By now, you might have some potential entries to your list of ‘I-Will-Write-A-Letter-To-Them-One-Day’. Make sure you communicate with them on these pages when you want to, and not when you have to or should. It should feel special. Don’t drag these letters because then there won’t be any difference between them and your chats. Start with searching for those letter writing papers (Ping me if you find them!) and pens that are so smooth that they almost give you an orgasm (No pun intended).  Also, decorate those envelopes! I once pasted two clouds resembling the ones on the cover of The Fault in Our Stars and wrote an address in each. Make a black envelope and spray it with white paint using toothbrush. There! You have your galaxy envelope. If you are a quote digger like me, write a cherished quote on the envelope each time.

Some of my friends even write a letter to themselves. These writings contain all their tiny hopes, worries and expectations. Once complete, they keep these letters in some far away place and open it after a set duration. One of them tells me how the entire process has made her analyse herself better than anyone ever could. And how there will always be certain attributes stored inside her ‘core’ that would never change.

If you really wish to write to someone and have no one start with, post it to me. I’d love to receive letters from complete strangers. *does the happy dance*

Yours guilelessly,

Nandita Kochar.

(Picture Credits; Ambica Kaul)

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