Era of the postman gone?
HAVING the availability of an efficient courier service, the era of postmen delivering letters from house to house appears to have ended for the public at large. For over a decade now we have not received any mail through postal service. The postman does not come to our locality anymore to collect Eidi, as he does not have any Eid cards to deliver. Earlier, if you had not seen your postman for quite sometime, it was inevitable that you would do so on the occasion of Eidul Fitr and Eidul Azha.
In the days gone by, the postman used to be an essential part of our culture. He was much more than a letter-carrier and considered to be a member of the household in small towns and villages. He was privy to the information on family members as all uneducated people would ask him to read their letters and even request him to write down the reply, mostly on a postcard. In return, the postman would be entertained with a meal by the family or given small gifts. Postcard was the cheapest source of written communication amongst people living in different cities not only within the country but abroad also.
People were so much dedicated and honest in their professions that even the postman would not read the postcard unless requested to do so by the addressee.
Transmission of information through the postal service was slow but it was reliable as the mail would hardly be lost if address mentioned on the envelope/card was correct. Even envelopes without the stamp of proper value would be delivered to the addressee under the remarks ‘Bayrang’. The latter had the option of receiving the letter by paying the applicable cost of postage or return the same. The system was widely used as telephone service was rare and expensive.
The excitement and emotionality involved in receiving mail through post was so much that people would regularly check their letter-boxes installed in every house, expecting the mail eagerly. In the present era receiving messages through emails, sms and many other sources of communication is no substitute for the pleasure which one derived from reading the postal mail.
My maternal uncle had visited his childhood home in Jalandhar, India, sometimes in the 1960s. While there, he wrote a letter to my mother, who lived in Lahore, Pakistan, from the rooftop of that house, describing the place and surroundings, where both of them had played as children.
My mother read the letter several times. It made her weep as memories of her childhood would come into her mind, like a movie. She never parted with the letter and treated it as her prized possession. I believe a phone call or text message would not generate those feelings.
Nevertheless without prejudice to the above, I salute and appreciate the advancement of technology whereby communication has become extremely fast to the great advantage of people.