I recently completed Two Lives and it may not be the best Vikram Seth but there is something to be said for a book to be based largely on letters. Yes there many a book on letters written to and fro between famous father and daughters pairs and all but this one came across as moving in a different sense.
I still write letters. Long, rambling letters. Where I put pen to paper, consciously leave a margin and try and write as neatly as possible. Its much more personal than an email, to me, and in some ways helps that the receipient is not email savvy. I write daily things. I write about what I say or do or discuss a matter of grave importance to me and to appease my recyclye-friendly soul, I write on used paper.
I wrote letters from school days, when accidentally I discovered Penpals in Misha. While that was not a successful endeavour, my army-bound cousin promised to write to me. For the longest time, I collected his replies. He always wrote in a hurry but never forgot to write to me. Small things he remembered and little amounts that would arrive for my birthday. Even when his wife and my parents had a fight-of sorts, he treated me like an adult. He wrote to me explaining why it would be best if we did not communicate anymore.
I went on treks, came back with diaries full of address and was that pesky child who kept sending letters to people. Some in marathi ( my mother tongue and, full of grammatical errors) and some in english with horrendous handwriting.
Then some year ago, A really close friend got married, moved across continents and, again, was not email-happy. I remember writing letters behind reams and reams of press releases. I would issue her ultimatums if she did not reply (she did not anyway) and send the letter to her husband’s address and my letters got nicknames of “books” thanks to the copious amounts that I always had to say.
In my current workplace I used to get strange looks because for the longest time because I insisted on posting letters. When they started going astray( and me not keeping a copy of what I had written), I started couriering them.
Through this book I realised that because nobody writes anymore — long letters detailing feelings, events and landmarks — there is no chance of discovering unexpected and delicious tales of old friends or relatives. No sense of being a part of history that otherwise you would have never seen. Its perhaps a form of history that we lose when we shift our writing more to the e-kinds (including blogging).