Of Letters and Conversations

Dear Reader, A wave of nostalgia came over me the other day. In an effort to find a remedy, I rummaged my room looking for letters of old. I could not find any. I thought of the many letters written to me: letters of hope, encouragement, love and yes, even infatuation. All of them gone-their treasured contents now dependant on my erratic memory. It was then that it dawned on me what the advent of instant communication had robbed me-the art of letter writing. The only letters I now write are job applications, and the only ones I now receive are bank statements. I reminisced of my high school days. The highly anticipated moment when the information prefect would call out the names of those who had letters sent to them. I recalled the silence and the cold stares that met the one who dared upset that silence. I recalled the brief loud cheer when one’s name was called more than once. Oh, the thrill of it. He was the lucky one who won the bragging rights of the day. I recalled of the time when I almost gave up on my education. It was the encouraging letter from my father that gave me the much needed strength to hang in there- just a little bit longer. It was in those days that I said what I meant and I meant what I said. When I wrote, “I miss you”, I really did. Now, I say the same and a flush of guilt comes over me. How do I miss someone who is just a call, sms, update, or a tweet away? I have tried but my heart cannot be easily deceived. It demands absence for it to truly “miss”. There is truth in the old adage “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” In the same nostalgic mood, I recalled of the rich conversations we had around the dining table. How we teased each other and prattled on and on about the events of the day. How we dreamily projected into the future and built castles in the air. How we lingered on the table long after we had finished our meals. It was during this time that our dear parents moulded us while we were still malleable. Then slowly, almost pathologically, the conversations reduced to inquiries. There arrived a guest at our own invitation. It refused to leave. It took centre-stage in our lives and awed by its antics, we allowed it. It was bossy and did not allow conversations to revolve around anything else except what it had to say. It’s rare absence occasioned by power blackouts left us in a limbo. We stared at the ceiling, at some inanimate object, and then at each other. We coughed intermittently desperately trying to break the long spell of awkward silences. We then mumbled a few incoherent words, only to be met with one-word rejoinders that were (for lack of a better word) simply idiotic. Oh, TV! How I lament your coming. You have robbed me off the art of conversing; how to draw water from the deep well of another’s and drinking of life’s lessons from therein. How I wish I could take you by your cord and throw you into the sea of forgetfulness. Indeed, how I wish. I now find myself in the valley of decision. Before me are two great mountains that I should climb while my heart still pounds in my breast- that of letter writing and conversing. I will not tire of the trips to and fro the post office. I will invest in a chest box and store my treasures therein. In my abode, we will take our meals around the dining table as it ought to be. Then, when I am advanced in years and that wave of nostalgia comes over me, I shall reach for my chest box, head for the front porch, and relish every word therein. When friends wonder how our children and grandchildren are so very…agreeable, my loved one and I shall recall of the many nights we spent around the dining table; deeply engrossed in conversation, rich meaningful conversations. Yours truly, Evans Toroitich

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