Thursday, September 06, 2001

Yesterday, I received a postcard. From, of all the people, my insurance agent. Not a noteworthy occurrence in itself. But the way he began the letter… “Dear Ashok, Hope this letter finds you in the best of health…” triggered a bout of nostalgia.

When was the last time I heard the phrase? It seems like eons ago. I was a student back then, and the phrase was part of a mental template, used while writing – in blue inland letters -- to mom and dad.

The letters, invariably, sought more pocket money -- usually to settle the paanwalla’s rising debt. There was little else to write, because what we did wasn’t what mom and dad exactly expected us to do.

The reply – on what else, but a blue inland letter -- would arrive promptly. In about 15 days. Usually from mom. Framed, again, within a template.

How are you? Hope you are eating well? Why don’t you visit your relatives? Take care of your health. Study hard…

None of which, I did.

Somewhere between motherly anxiety and unheeded advice, would be the much-awaited piece of news: the money order has been dispatched.

The next week would pass in binge of profligate living.

I clearly remember More cigarettes, those long brown ones with two golden rings just above the filter. I didn’t care about brands, it was the sheer novelty of its colour and shape – not to mention its cost and foreign pedigree – that mattered.

For about three days, these cigarettes would be on the house for friends. Then I would switch my loyalties to Berkeley, an unfiltered but cheap brand. And, finally, if I had been particularly generous with my monthly booty, to beedis…

Suddenly, I graduated. I got a job. The letters stopped.

There was nothing to say. They had become a chore; an old habit that, unfortunately, didn’t die hard.

It’s over 10 years since I set my eyes on an inland letter. And, as long, since I wrote anything of a personal nature.

I do correspond a lot these days. But none of it is to my mother. I don’t use pen or paper, I don’t ‘dear’ anyone, I don’t try to ‘find anyone in good health’, I am not ‘sincerely anybody’s’, and, yes, much of it is written in lower case…

I do call my mother sometimes, though.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?