Way back in my school time having penpals or pen friends to be precise was a BIG thing. There was some newsletter that one kid – in our case inavariably a girl, since we went to a all girls school-would get. Then we would all fall over each other to get hold of that newsletter. Then there would be loud screams, shouts and would nearly tear the sheet of addresses. Because each one was possessive, each wanted to ensure their territory & not allow other girls to share pen friends.
We did not have much pocket money then. Also, our fathers never could fathom this whole pen friend business. Yet i don’t know how, he would relent & we had a good set of pen friends. In fact that pen friends newsletter was available at the cost of Rs20 then which is equivalent to Rs250 now, with inflation et al added.
I had a good set of few pen friends. One English, 2-3 German who were really veryyy nice & one Brazlian. English was Jane or Janet, she had a good pet dog. German was Ulrike Shwarz & the german male was Mark i think, he took good pics like me…the Brazilian was Ricardo F Nardi. I can’t remember the Swiss girl’s name. Don’t know how i remember their names & i’m sure i had forgotten. Now recently a senior cop reminded me of the penpal days. Since i have done a story on how the social networking sites have come under threat from terror & narcotics groups.
The Facebook is definitely one networking site that i’m glad my younger friends got me on to. I persuaded other friends of mine & have given them tips about it, like my young colleagues help me. I’ve been wanting to get off FB, I’m highly bored with it. But i do admit there are many & i mean it, very many people who i have re-connected with. A lot of school colleagues (can’t call them friends) i’ve reconnected with, many friends, some new contacts and many strangers who i’ve covered in various stories or have met me on work.
Today however i was immensely surprised. Ricardo suddenly sent me a pvt message. He said “do you remember neeta long ago, many yrs ago we used exchange letters.” I needn’t have read his message, i only read his name & i was dead sure this was THE Brazilian pen friend of mine. Except ofcourse it was a hunch.
I read the message & was thrilled. You know what he wrote?? “I remember u telling me that you wanted to be a journalist.” He wrote “CONGRATULATIONS” in full caps. Hehehe…i couldn’t remember at all ofcourse. But wow! I was so clear? More so i was brave enough to have shared it with my pen friend. He is soooo cool. He remembered that? Isn’t that extremely sweet? How many decades ago that was. wow…i’m speechless.
I think this is one cute story. Where do you read that pen friends have grown middle aged (yeah shit man…40 plus we are) changed in looks i’m sure, he looks much fairer & more handsome too (he was good looking like any Brazilian). We have NO clue about each other’s life. We have gone down our own paths with NO exchange of information for over 2 decades and now there we are reconnecting, piecing our lives together. I think this is a story NYT should do. Well NOT many Indian journalists will understand the nuances (most are young so pen friends thing they won’t understand, considering it would take a month or more for letters to reach the other country!)and more so the importance of re-connection after 25 more years.
So here’s to the pen-friend letters! I wonder when the tech grows more & more where most of communication is trashed after reading, people do not archive beyond few months, how will people reconnect? I am sure there will be ways. I still have their photos, i admit. Because i treasured their friendships.