The Letter Writer

Dear Reader,

Imagine receiving a personal letter.

You return to your room after a busy day, mind occupied with things which were and things which are yet to be. Dumping your bag in the nearest semblance of an empty space, you throw yourself onto your bed -you want a lazy nap. You glance at your table to see where you’d left the earphones — and suddenly you see an envelope, waiting patiently.

No, just imagine.

It’s a yellow envelope, the kind you’d fall in love with if you were a stationery person. In the soft, slant glow of your bed-light, you see stamps (two Gandhis, maybe, Indira and Mohandas). Your address is written (to the top-right) in a handwriting you can’t recognize or don’t know but like immediately. Unfortunately, there is no address to the bottom-left. You don’t know the identity of the sender, yet. The edges have seen better days, and the envelope is shredded at a corner. It looks beautiful.

You carefully open the envelope, and pull out the letter — which is a clean sheet of paper folded in three. You pause for a moment, an unopened letter in hand, mind racing. You’re thinking about numbers. About the number of people who could have written that letter, about the hundreds of things they could have said in it, and about the millions of words they could have used to say those things. This moment — this one pregnant pause — is when you’ll know your fears and your dreams, because you will imagine them shaping into words written in that piece of paper in your hand.

You open that letter, and read. The numbers meander down to one, the hundreds boil down to maybe two and the millions to just a few. For a moment there, you think the whole process was anti-climatic. You think the magic is gone, replaced by something mundane. You wonder if there was anything magical at all in the first place.

But hey, hold on, for the next piece of magic is of a slower and grander disposition, and you’ll carry it around with you for quite some time.

Re-read the letter. Again. Look at the shape of the words, the gaps between them. Remember phrases that you liked, and remember them long after you’ve put the letter away. And most of all, remember the fact that someone took the effort and time to write a letter out for you — one (of a number of people) chose a couple of (out of a hundred) things to say and said in a few (out of a million possible) words.

Now, if that’s not magical, I don’t know what is.

Thank you for imagining,