Ramblings from a Post box

A mailbox gets nostalgic and philosophical as it recounts its glorious days

Dear reader, as a sentient being with locomotive capabilities, you are indeed part of a privileged species and I have been mute witness to the many marvels that you have achieved. What else can a stationary post box do? You are the reason I exist. Nevertheless, I cannot help but notice how life has become clockwork for most, if not all of you. The urge to observe the world around you, the powerful ability to wonder, the innate curiosity—I find these traits dwindling. Believe me when I say this, because I observe, I wonder, and I am curious.

My existence is not very exciting, but make no mistake, I was a real hero, a life-saver, in my heydays. I have been the harbinger of emotions—a myriad variety of them. My letters a sign of relief for some; a symbol of tingling uncertainty for others. Countless souls have opened their hearts and let their feelings flow, all because this simple box was standing still in one corner. You see, being informed and having a way of communication is vital for your survival. In the good old days, I was one of the beacons that symbolised information and communication. Even today, it is true. However, the torrential flow has reduced to a trickle.

I still fondly remember those old days. It’s difficult to explain the exhilaration I felt as letters, post cards, greetings—all coursed through me. Arguments, disagreements, compliments, intellectual discussions—I have seen them all. What it did to me was create a fascination towards you and your ways. Before long, I reached a point where I was able to make a good guess about the contents of a letter. No, not clairvoyance or anything—it was simple logic and observation. For most people, their faces used to give away their emotions. Not many bothered to hide it actually. But there were a few poker-faced ones, and gauging the contents of their letter was something I found challenging.

Festive seasons were a gala time for me, as they were for you. The deluge of letters that flowed through me made me beam with joy. Come Christmas, there would be a plethora of letters written by the little ones to Santa. The innocence oozing out of those letters was something so endearing. I cannot help but wonder, were you one among those little kids too? In retrospect though, there is something that gives me a pang. Even though I was able to understand people’s emotions and empathise with them, there was no way for me to communicate with them; to share my own feelings. My own emotional turmoil went unseen.

Over time, there is something else that started bothering me. Change. I never anticipated it, but it became evident within me and around me. Yes, you created me, but you and I are being chiselled and polished by time. You insist that you do not have time. Whereas I have all the time I need, and then some. I am probably into my second century of existence.

The contours of the place around me have changed quite a deal since those old times. Have you observed, for instance, how those small shops made with brick walls and roofs paved with coconut palms have given way to tall, coruscating malls? Those small shops had nearly everything a household would need. But where one small shop was enough to cater to your needs, now malls sprawled across acres and multiple storeys don’t seem enough. Your needs have changed over time.

I have seen people wizened by age come and spend time on the little verandahs of those small shops. To listen to their friendly banter was a thing of joy. Sometimes they used to bring along their little grandchildren. It was quite a sight—the little fellows, seated on the front bar of a big bicycle, clutching on for dear life. Even more wonderful was the transition of that fear to happiness, when they got some ‘treat’ from the shop. Possibly a little toffee, but enough to bring a wide smile on the little face. Those tiny tots have probably grown up to become one among you. Tell me, have you observed these changes?

These and many other things have remodelled the place visually. It is out there for all to see. But, what about subtle changes that are not so apparent? My own existence and purpose is one such thing. My early years of joy and pride faded as newer, faster and purportedly better ways of communication surfaced. I held on, but the decreasing number of letters and post cards meant only one thing. There were days when I feared the worst would happen. Thankfully though, a few people who still prefer handwritten letters justify my existence. I pacify my own wounded ego by reminding myself that I am sturdy, and that even if all my brethren fall, I’ll still be standing.

Being ignored—the feeling that you do not exist—is a very heavy feeling; something which weighs down your heart. I, who revelled in the flurry of messages and emotions that I have helped convey, felt lost and disoriented when it all came to a stop. Which is when I turned my attention outwards, and started observing the world. If I had observed the changes early enough, the change in my own life wouldn’t have disturbed me as much. You, dear human, give this a thought. If a time comes in your life, when you just sit around and observe your surroundings, would it be because your existence was questioned? Would there be a time in your life when you cease to be the frontline player? Would the lack of attention bother you at that time? Observe now. Anticipate change. And now, as I talk of change, here’s some one coming with a greeting card. All is not lost, after all.

This was first published in the February 2014 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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