Long before the advent of emails, mobile phones, FB, whatsapp, instagram, snapchat etc. etc., there was something called 'Pen friends/ Pen friendships', I think now we can conveniently call it the ancient version of all these social media tools available. One thing I can vouch for is that it was a very clean and exciting way of making friendship with people within our Country and overseas, the highlight of it was that mostly these pen friendships were approved by parents and thrived under their full supervision, at least that is what has been witnessed by me.
I came across the concept of 'pen friendship' through the children's magazine named 'children's world', I had subscribed for it and it used to arrive at my door step once a month along with the newspaper bundle and it used to be a happy day for me with lots of stories and cartoons and colouring contest to catch up with. Towards the last page of this magazine was a page dedicated to people looking for 'Pen friendship' along with their name, address , age , which class (as readers were mostly students only) and their hobbies so that the reader can identify the 'pen friend' who closely matches her or his age, class, hobbies etc and reach out to them for being pen friends.
I think I was in class 9 when I actually got a pen friend, before that though I kept trying, I abandoned one or two pen friends because I could not find much in common with them. This 'pen friend' of mine was a boy of class xi in Goa and was aspiring to be an Engineer, and appeared to be quite studios and intelligent as per his details given in the magazine. I wrote to him with a 'pen friendship' request and soon we became very good friends, in due course of time I realized that he is also a keralaite settled in Goa, soon we started exchanging loong letters to each other, we started confiding in each other and the tone and tanor of our letters kept changing as we also kept growing and changing. Not even for once the letters from either side cross any boundary of decency and clean friendship, in fact my parents grew very fond of him and his sister's good wishes were always there in each letter that he wrote to me.
Once when my 'pen friend'visited Delhi he came visiting my home as well and we prepared a wholesome Kerala lunch for him , it was great meeting in person after years of exchanging letters to each other. Time flew and I reached college and he had got into a very good organisation as an Engineer, then some how we lost touch with each other , also me and my family shifted out from the place where I used to get his letter which diminished the chance of getting his letters any more.
Later , much later, I traced him out through the name of the Company where he had joined and we got in touch with again, by the time I was married and was working in a Company, into a particular profession and when I got in touch with him it was a pleasant surprise to know that he was also in the same profession as me and was pretty senior and was doing quite well in his field. Then again we lost touch somewhere but then FB (Facebook) came to our rescue and we restored our lost friendship and got in touch with each other again.
It is a unique story of 'pen friendship', full of respect and warmth for each other, it has that old world charm and innocence which today's social media somehow seems to lack. At the same time I am thankful to FB for having given us a chance to renew our relationship and carry on with this wonderful friendship that we had nurtured over the years.