When I was in school having pen friends was the rage of the students. I remember one of my friends in the neighbourhood, SNS, who was having friendship with a girl from Australia, Jena. It was such an important matter at that time that today, even after a gap of about 36 years, I vividly remember the details. When he would get a letter from this girl, all of us would read it and comment upon it. Her handwriting was really beautiful and I still can see the words written in black ink on a paper. So much so that the stamps glued on the envelop would be a collector’s item! After some exchange of letters,
Jena sent her photograph. And would you believe that her photograph became a piece-a–detour in their home. It was a matter of pride for whole of the neighbourhood that a boy from this locality had got a photo of an “Angrez” girl. For most of us all white skinned people were just “Angrez” as all black skinned people in India are “Madrasis” for the north Indians these days. This picture, put in a very costly frame, was put on the mantle along with all the dignitaries’ photo frames. Such honour was bestowed on the photograph that I wonder what would have happened if the girl in person would have decided to visit their home!
I don’t know what happened later on. Perhaps the relationship came to an end as the postal stamps, needed to post a letter, were really making a dent in the pocket of SNS.
I thought off this incident because of two things—one that SNS’s daughter got married on 2nd July and it was the invite that made me think about SNS. And second is the easy access to make friends over Net these days and its impact on their life. I am sure that if I ask SN today about Jena, he would take a while even to remember the name. The teenaged boy of those days is a big industrialist in Mumbai these days and I think twice before calling him up as his secretary, speaking fluent English, puts me off. But he would surely remember her and we would have a great laugh over certain silly things that were so important to us at one time.
But the scenario has changed these days. With easy access to Net connections and the all time dilemma of the modern generation, connecting to more and more persons has become a fad. I keep on surfing the Net, reading blogs and scraps on orkut and feel really sorry for the young generation in search of “nothing”. No one seems to know what they are searching for or why? But since everyone else seems to be on orcut, you must too be there. Since others are writing blogs, you must too and so on and on.
In our times pen friends were not something to be laughed off but a relationship worth nurturing with care and love. There were not any expectations of meeting this friend in person or marrying her but still it was dignified relationship. Not even jokingly would we laugh or make fun of
Jena. She was a respectable entity for us all.
But these days the things are much different. People connect to others as if more the score more prestigious it would be for them. I wonder looking at the friends’ list of some person’s on Orkut that whether they really remember the names of all these persons on their friend list. Or for them the more the better, is the supreme Mantra? And the so called serious relationships on the Net are solely need based. You need company, you enter a relationship. How easy and free it has become to avail companionship over Net? No promises to fulfill, even if they are made, they are forgotten the moment the need is not there for this companionship. How inhuman indeed!
I am sure SNS would still talk of Jena in a respectful manner and not only he but his mother would have some honest emotions for the girl, whose photograph adorned their home. But can we say the same thing about the present day Net relations? Many of these relationships are nurtured behind the backs of the parents. In many cases the parents don’t even seem to have an idea what their worthy sons and daughters are up to behind their backs. And if by chance, there is a need to take things any further, the relationship is snapped with a cruelty that might break the tender heart as well. But who cares?
I am sure like SNS Jena, too, would be having a cherished memory of a friendship that she had with a boy from India but would the present day youth carry any such memory? When they have so little time and so many Net friends to choose from?
A serious relationship—my foot–seems to be guiding Mantra for these modern day Net suavy nerds!
I crave for the good old days!
P.S. Could not control my curiosity and called SNS a moment back and asked him about his one time Penfriend. He remebered her. And surprisingly I talked to him after about 25 years. Thanks to a small memory about a pen friend that I was able to reconnect to my childhood friend!