Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sir, post!

"Sir, post!"

It's been so long, that I haven't heard this word, 

I'm trying to be silent, but the control I have is washing away. 
It won't be long, before I get you in my hands, 
And just hold you, write (in) you, paste you, send you to where's been on my mind. 

(Modified Akon's "Right now" song! Thank you Akon!)

I am writing this post with a letter box on the wall beside me. I stood up and counted the number of letters in it and its types. There are some 6 letters in the box against its capacity of 30 letters. All these 6 envelopes are wedding invitations. No other posts! I am disappointed! 


Image: Indianstampghar


My mother often tells me the way people used to wait eagerly for the postman's call and the letters in the olden days. Postmen usually call on either during the noon or the afternoon around 11 A.M. - 4 P.M. They usually wear a Khakhi uniform and a cap (only in the olden times) and they ride a bar-bicycle probably a green colored one with a bunch of posts in their hands. The ringing of their cycle bell announces their arrival. The modern day postmen have a logo announcing their taglines stitched to their pockets. The way they get down from their cycle and put the center stand of the cycle is always fascinating to me. They somehow always know the door numbers, street names, areas even if they are new to that area. 

The job in the urban areas is always an ordinary uneventful one. Get the posts from the post office, reach the place, ring the bell and deliver them. But it is quite amusing for the postmen in rural areas. Get your posts from the office, reach the place, knock the door (no bells in most of the houses) and deliver it. Alas it doesn't end here! If the people to whom you deliver the letters are literate, you are lucky. If not, you aren't. They will ask you to open the letters for them and read. If it is happy news, you may get hugs, kisses, sweets, praises and even tips. If it is sad news, you are done. You might even get beatings from them. If you are a post man and you read a letter to a man which is an apology letter from her daughter for her elope! What would happen to you? Man, you are done! If you lose or damage (accidentally or purposely even) a letter or money (for the money order), you might get a memo too. Of course, this is a dangerous job at times. 

I don't know how many know this comedy from a Tamil film. It is a film called "Seval" in which the famous comedian "Vadivel" acted as a post man in a rural area. He goes to a place to deliver a post. The guy in that home is an illiterate and so he asks Vadivel to read the letter.

Vadivel: Hey, you have got a letter! 

Guy: I don't know to read. Please read it for me. 


(Vadivel thinks that it is dangerous to read it but opens the envelope. He is astonished to see that the letter has no content except for a line at the end "Tear it after reading".) 

Vadivel: Hey, it is written "Tear it after reading." 

Guy: Is it? Did you read it? 
Vadivel: Yes! 
Guy: Then tear it. 
Vadivel: Then okay! 

(He tears the letter and moves his cycle.)

Guy: Hey what are you doing? Stop!
Vadivel: What else should I do? 
Guy: Tell what you have read! 

(Vadivel gets shocked!)

Vadivel: It had "Tear it after reading". I read and I tore it. 

Guy: Okay. Tell what you have read! 
Vadivel: Idiot, It had "Tear it after reading". I read and I tore it. 
Guy: That is what! Tell what you have read! 

And it creates a bigger problem. It had only that single statement! Here is its video.

The people in the olden days waited anxiously for their posts. They would wait near the doors for the cycle bell and "Sir, post!" shout. Once they hear, they run to the gate like a child does when it hears its father coming and receive the posts. If there are more than one, one could see them smiling! They loved reading them. They would carefully open them using knives (not for a postcard of course!) and read slowly line by line and cherish them. They also preserved them for re-reading. When they come back to their home from outside, the first thing they check is their letterbox hoping for a letter. Those red color letter boxes in which we put our letters to be posted always haunt me. They are very rare to be seen these days. 

 Image: Wikipedia

These letters not only served as a means of communication but also games, knowledge, art etc., There are people who write the letters in the mirror image way that it could be read only by seeing its reflection on the mirror. They use secret codes among them and only those people know them could read it and other members of the family could never find out the true content of the letters. The letters also served as a great means of knowledge. There are several letters written throughout the history which proved to be a great deal of knowledge. There is a book Famous Letters:Messages & Thoughts That Shaped Our World by Frank Mclynn which is a compilation of great historical letters. Jawaharlal Nehru's letters which he wrote in prison to Indira Priyadharshini made her a great leader. One can always hear the previous generation people telling that they have gained a wide vocabulary and sentence forming knowledge from these letters. 

The history of letters is quite amusing and well-known. The pigeons, the scroll followed by the cards, inland letters, envelopes, money orders and telegrams. The cards and inland letters always meant some sort of relations writing them. Money orders are always joyous ones as they gave people money. No bank transactions, no online payments, no mobile transfers and these money orders served a great way. These money orders also started the act of giving the senders "delivery reports". Telegrams are usually scary since the most urgent messages are sent through them especially the sad ones. One would not know what is there in the envelope unless they open it. And not to forget about the stamps, they are a great deal to the kids which help them know the countries, their leaders, monuments etc., They indulge in stamp collecting which gives them a wider knowledge.

E-mails can be accepted as an equivalent to letters, but can never supersede them, for you can store them but the telephones and mobile phones don't have a way. They had a great popularity initially because of the transmission of the voice of the people. But we cannot rejoice the conversation or their voice later when we wish to. But the letters provide us these recapturing moments. Letters taught us the way of formal and informal speech. It gave us the tradition of addressing the reader as "dear" or "respected". The letter served as way of communication with respect and affection.

"Letters are among the most significant memorial a person can leave behind them."

---Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 

I have not seen a postcard or an inland letter drop in my box for almost a year and I have not passed a day without expecting one. I'd often check my Milk box (for it serves a post box) almost twice a day. Hope the day comes when the letters dominate the world again.

6 comments:

  1. It is really a very nice post. Even i used wait for the postman to come and when there was some letter for me I would be overjoyed. After my marriage, I would eagerly wait for the prompt letters that my dad wrote, wait for the long letters from my sister in Boston, wait for the photographs to arrive undamaged. It was a totally different time. Now you only have courier fellows, hardly any post comes though the postmen are still around, and they come motorcycles, and are also very smart, and educated.
    There was a time when we used enjoy writing long lengthy letters, and would not be satisfied if we received a to the point kind of letters.
    But we are also able to appreciate the modern day emails, and video calls, that has made interacting with people so much easier, and also a great time saver.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for such a comment :) Yeah, I still remember people cursing sweetly those who are to point and write short letters.. They always serve as a great remembrance... yeah and you are right about the present day... I didn't condemn them yet I loved the smell of those posts, the visual and the writing.. I always prefer them to technology...

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  2. A nostalgic post! Many lines of your post flooded me with memories of my own:) Great writing, Hari.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Asha :) Letters always create a nostalgic feeling.. Hope that time comes back and makes us cheerful :)

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  3. well, i know the joy of receiving a letter. the mere sight of a postman used to bring smiles on our faces.

    letter will never dominate the world again because it's more convenient to use e-mail. but e-mail cannot be considered equivalent to letters because more than 90% of the e-mails we receive are junks. it was not the same with letters.

    a brilliant post!!!

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, these e-mails can never be equivalent to the letters... And sadly you are correct, the letters won't be back.. and thanks for the comment :)

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Time to hear yours, please

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