LAHORE: There were times when people used to write letters to their loved-ones and wait for their replies for days and weeks. People used to remain in contact with each other through letters, postcards, money orders, and parcels etc. People would keep some rose petals in between paper-folds, and sprinkle some perfume and post their letters. When the recipients would open those envelops, the rose-petals and the pleasant odour would say many things which the senders or their words could never have conveyed. And if a personal photograph would have been made part of the letters, those would have resulted in “aadhi mulaqat” [virtual meeting] literally.
There used to be rush of people at main post offices, coming there for availing various services. When a postman would pass through a locality, calling out, or ringing his bicycle bell, people would ask him if there was any letter for them. Illiterate would contact their educated relatives or the ‘munshi’ sitting outside the post office premises for sending letters to their relatives living in other cities or abroad. Young men in old city areas used to write letters to their darlings and throw it onto their rooftops after wrapping them in clods.
Though the invention of mobile-phone snatched this beautiful tradition from our society, there are people who still rejoice the sweet memories of the ‘letter age’. Postmaster General Punjab Khwaja Imran Raza is one of such people, who recently thought of reviving the tradition of writing letters. He launched a campaign ‘Let’s write a letter’ at one of the city’s most prestigious and old educational institutions, Kinnaird College University for Women, Lahore last week.
Khwaja Imran Raza says letters are one of the best ways to preserve your beautiful memories. He says his mother had written him a letter before her death, and shared her love with him. “Now, whenever I miss her, I reopen that letter, and read it again. Every time, I feel my mother is talking to me, wishing me every good thing in life and sharing her love with me. This is one of the most beautiful things in my life,” he says.
The official says that the purpose of the campaign is not only promotion of letter writing and instilling the love for written words in the younger generation, but also generating revenue for his department and restoring the image and role of post office in society. He says that with around 14,000 branches across the country, Pakistan Post enjoys expanded outreach.
He says that Pakistan post office serves the country via its postal services, both for domestic as well as international letters, documents, and parcels. Having general post offices (GPOs) in almost all cities and even some rural towns across the country, Pakistan Post has been serving the country since its independence in 1947. As a government-owned enterprise, the department is dedicated to offering a range of postal services.
In connection with his ‘Let’s write a letter’ campaign, the postmaster general Punjab also inaugurated a post office at the Kinnaird College, and the ceremony was attended by the students, faculty and principal of the college as well as officers of the Pakistan Post.
The postmaster general says that it was his dream to pass on the feeling of the healing touch to one’s relations through personalised letters, impacting the lives of others with a personal touch. He urged the younger generation to not bury the legacy of earlier generations and to return to the beauty of penmanship.
Kh Imran Raza says the new generation has computers in their lives, and they are connected socially as well as globally through their digital devices. But, he adds, writing a letter to a loved-one has a romance, which is known only to those who used to write letters. He says that digital messages were dictated by technology, while hand-written letters are “focused and private craft of an individual”.
“When someone sends you a hand-written letter, you receive a part of who they are”, he believes.
Kinnaird College Principal Dr Rukhsana David, President Department of Philosophy Nimra Yousaf, faculty members and a large number of students attended the event. Students evinced keen interest in the drive and over 300 students wrote letters to their loved-ones in just one hour, Kh Imran Raza says. “My postman and postmaster were sitting there, and there was a beautiful environment of remembering ones’ loved-ones through letters,” says the postmaster general. Those letters were dropped in letter boxes and then the postman took them for delivering on the given addresses. Kh Imran promised with the students that on the next Eid, Eid cards would be available at all post offices, and called upon them to help revive the tradition of sending Eid cards also.
The postmaster general says he wants to revive the ‘City of literature tradition’ in Lahore and promote literary activities in the historical city once again. He says he wants to be part of such literary activities and he has plans to set up such a post office in the minarets of the GPO building where poets and writers will be invited, and served a cup of tea and biscuits. He says a minaret will also be constructed at the PMG Office and poets and writers will also be invited there.