Right outside our main door, a little wooden letter box hung from the wall. It was accompanied by two more of it’s kind. Our’s was beige colored with the family title on it and had a small glass window to it with an inch wide slit on the top. It was beginning to gather dust and the paint was wearing out. Sometimes the tiny little door remained ajar. It had gone into the background along with the pale apple white wall. It seldom had anything inside it and mostly lay empty.
When I was a child, letters were important! My mother assigned me the great task of checking for letters and I took it up with a sense of pride and dedication. The tiny little key that opened the letter box filled me up with a deep sense of significance and there was not a day that I failed or forgot. There were letters from banks, companies, friends and family but what fascinated me the most were the stamps with the curvy black mark over it. I would hand over the letters to Mother or Father and wait eagerly for them to dispose off with the envelope and then sit with it and stare at the stamps.
One day, my mother found me staring at one such stamp and then told me that we could collect the stamps that came on the envelopes. She took the envelope and dipped it into some water and after a short while the stamp came off neatly from the paper. I was captivated as if she had performed some magic! From then on, I would remove stamps from the envelopes myself and nothing could contain my excitement when I noticed stamps with pictures or values that I did not already have. Soon, I had quite a few stamps. I was diligently collecting every stamp that came into our letter box and around this time my mother gifted me with an album for my stamps. She helped me sort out the stamps according to the country they came from and then we carefully placed them into our stamp album.
I sometimes look at the stamps that I had collected over the years and cannot help but feel wistful. Letters, letter boxes, stamps, greeting cards, hand written letters …are a diminishing practice now. The letter box just outside our main door which once remained locked now stands unused with it’s door ajar.