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Priy 'yah Sandeskam me hara dhanapati krodhavishle shitasya
- Chapter 1, sloka 7, line 2 - Meghadutam by Kalidasa (6th to 8th century A.D.)

As the story goes, the speaker of these lines or the Yaksha was banished from his holy abode Alakapuri to hills of Ramgiri by Kuber - 'god of riches and wealth', where he would have to stay all by himself for one whole year. The Yaksha's heart pined for his beloved who he had left behind at Alkapuri. He could bear the separation no more, he had to communicate with her somehow and fast! It was the onset of the monsoons and the sky was overcast with thick, dark clouds. In the line quoted from the text, the Yaksha asks a cloud to convey his message of love to his beloved assuring her that they will meet eventually. He chose the cloud as his messenger or 'speed post' for a cloud is supposed to travel fast over land, rivers, forests, cities, towns and villages.

Had Meghadutam been written in the twenty first century the Yaksha probably would have switched on the computer, gone online and sent his message by the click of the button - the message would have reached instantly. No more is it necessary for one to sit with pen, paper and ink to write to someone. The message simply has to be chipped in. A person with untidy handwriting need not worry that his letter may go unread, he just has to choose one of the many beautiful fonts ranging from the formal Book Antiqua, funky Comic Sans, artistic Brush Script, ornate Matura Script to codes like Marlett or Symbol. Blots and scratches will not make the mail untidy, there is always the delete or backspace key. The color and size of the font can be adjusted automatically. Important points can be bulleted, bolded, italicized or underlined. Borders and shading can be brought in. Pictures can be added from the Clip Art Gallery. It is very easy to make a document attractive, choices are many. Messages can be forwarded, cut or copied and pasted - it is not necessary to rewrite them.

Long winding addresses are giving way to email addresses containing a fixed number of characters. Two lettered country codes ('in' for India, 'it' for Italy) are replacing postal stamps. We have to pay dearly for extra grams of weight sent by post but it is all the same no matter how long an email is. ISD and STD bills can be cut down, it is possible to chat for hours and hours online. No longer do we have to worry about mail being delayed or undelivered, the electronic mail is instant. No more do we have to pine for our dear ones overseas, the email guarantees daily communication. And there are electronic greeting cards for every occasion - ranging from birthdays, anniversaries, Durga Puja, Christmas to events like Sausage Day and Babbling Day.

The older generation prefer those letters written in beautiful cursive hand with beautiful dark blue or black ink and try in vain to explain to present generation how exciting it is to wait for letters and rip open the envelope when they finally come.


More by :  Pallavi Bhattacharya

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