Both desert and dessert, remind me of a certain “sweet loving” pen pal I used to have from the land of the Thar desert. As much as the both us wanted to write to each other as many times as possible in a month, the snail mail deliveries would mean that we’d get to read each others letter only once in the time frame.
It would be a long wait with bated breath until the next letter arrived. Before that, the current letter would have been circulated among my friends at school. She used to write about the cuisines and traditions of her land which were new and fascinating to all of us. Sometimes, she’d also write a few words in Marwari along with the meaning and I’d translate that in Tamil in my reply. We were not fortunate enough to have Wikipedia or google translate when all this used to happen. One needed to be patient to gain knowledge. The wait could be endless, be it for the letter from this Marwari friend and her two cents, or to lay hands on that library book which someone had borrowed and is yet to be returned. Even changing music albums meant removing the cassette from the player and loading a new one on the right side, fast forwarding to the song of choice and then play it by pressing that big green button on the player. Songs did not play by the touch of a pseudo button.
All our pocket money would be spent on buying letter heads, stamps and glitter pens and not on recharging data packs.
Back in the day, having a pen pal made you the talk of the class. If that pal happened to be from a different country then you’d most likely be elected the “School Fine Arts Secretary” for your writing skills. Now with the advent of Facebook, teenagers these days can quickly befriend anyone from the other side of the globe and even get instant replies. This generation might get a cardiac arrest if I tell them that they might have to wait a month before getting a reply from the friend or to find out the meaning of ‘Gracias’ .
When Meow grows up I will ensure she gets a taste of this pen kinship; if not for the knowledge transfers, at least to experience the feeling of waiting. Even if I am unable to find out a pen pals listing anywhere, I will write letters myself with a pseudo name and a P. O. Box address (Here’s hoping all Postal Services stay alive for another ten years.)