A Letter To A Friend: You Won’t Find A Better Reason To Start Writing Again

A Letter To A Friend: You Won’t Find A Better Reason To Start Writing Again

Loosely Based On True Events

“You are going WHERE?” my cousin repeated as I stepped out of the house. “Already told you. To the post office.” I shot back.

“But why?” she moaned, not ready to let go.

“To get married”, I responded with an edge to my voice.

With a fake smile, she said, “If it’s not too much to ask in the middle of your wedding, here are some items we need for the kitchen”. She folded and proffered a grocery list for me to take along.

As I tucked the list in my bag, I saw the letter I had written that morning sitting snugly inside. It had its future planned, in which its delicate soul would probably help me save someone.

I had written the letter while waiting for the rain to stop, and it was now ready to be posted. After a long journey across the Indian Ocean, traversing the African continent, it would hopefully land in Sierra Leone.

The post office would tell me how many colourful stamps were enough to send it on its maiden flight.

Time to let it fly free. Would it reach?

We had begun with a catch-up with each other over the phone, talking about our days. My friend and I, inseparable since our college days, looked forward to that call. It soon became a weekly routine we hated to miss.

I mostly listened as she spoke about her work in Sierra Leone, providing relief as part of the Red Cross team. Some days were terrible, and some were purely hopeless. She talked of the horrors she saw every day.

With each phone call, her increased distress became apparent. The world had given up on the place, but not my friend.

The day she had some respite, she would call me. It was the only time she smiled, but I knew better. She was fast reaching the end of her tether.

It was frustrating to sit thousands of miles away and not be able to drag her back from the brink.

Was there nothing I could do?


I had woken that day filled with a sense of doom. Clouds had gathered with imminent signs of a downpour. A heavy shower was predicted around noon.

Was it me, or was the air heavy? I was finding it hard to breathe.

Hugging the folio of letters I had inherited from my grandfather, I went to my room. The folio contained correspondence he had exchanged over a lifetime. He had left it to me along with his fountain pen.

The letters were all dog-eared and yellow with age, but the words remained strong and the messages unfaded. The conversations were his, but the messages became my refuge.

Today, I was reading them for the thousandth time.


The letters mentioned incidents I was not a part of and people I had not met. They chronicled stories before my time. Family news, wedding discussions, travel plans, and what had transpired since the last letter. There were letters to friends, batch mates and colleagues.

Everything found a place.

The letters were the only way to tell what was happening. They contained a lifetime of emotions, struggles and triumphs, life and death.


It had been years since I had written by hand with the intent to write. And I could not remember the last time I wrote a letter to a friend. The beautiful cursive handwriting I had picked up and honed in school was a distant memory. 

My penmanship now was an impatient scribble in gel point pens, rushed with incomplete words. It held meaning only for me. Egyptian heliographs are more decipherable, my mother would tease.


Grandpa had bequeathed me his pen but not his patience.

I hugged the folio to my chest and looked at the darkening sky. It could pour any moment now. What a relief it would be if the flood swept me away, letters, stories and all. Would it carry me to a sunny day? Or deposit me in a green valley?

Would it transport me to a future I was praying would come true?


I glanced at the folio I held.

It was a tangible piece of someone I loved that I could hold on to. The words lifted me from the depths of sadness when I most needed them. They moved me to live with courage and patience. I could embrace the file, dance with it, and take it wherever I went. Always within reach.

The answer was in plain sight.


I filled ink in the pen that wrote a thousand letters, picked a few plain pages and began. While the skies descended with all their might outside, I wrote like my friend’s life depended on it.

It was time to send her my love, filled with stories of everyday hopes. Fleeting, ephemeral, but never lost.

Forgetting my tiffin, long winding meetings at the office, or a funny thing that happened at tea time. A hundred little things that make us want to get up and face the next day with new vigour. I wrote till my heart parted with every happy memory I had.

A bunch of pages was ready, enveloped and addressed. It was filled with cheer and sealed with sunshine.

These stories would keep her in the land of the living and never let her spark die.

And it was a piece of happiness that would hug her when I could not.

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