Discovering the value of handwritten letters
Qezz discovers the importance of writing letters to her loved ones during lockdown.
During quarantine I have been reflecting, and my state of mind hasn’t been matching up with my usual schedule of chaotic FaceTime calls and instant messages. Although connecting with loved ones from your smartphone is more efficient, most of the time these communications have no real emotion or thought behind them.
I realised that in all of my 21 years I have never written a handwritten letter. I won’t count the many times I wrote on a school textbook with a pencil to show to a friend and immediately rubbed it off with an eraser. I also won’t count the endless notes I exchanged with my friends in boring maths lessons about juicy gossip about teachers, boys and TV shows. But I never got round to writing words of affirmation to significant people in my life.
To this day, my only significant memory of letters are the ones my parents used to write each other in Urdu. Their long-distance marriage was built on a strong foundation of communicating through letters they’d send to each other from Pakistan to UAE. I often look back on the photoshoots both of my parents would do for each other posing in fabulous locations while wearing very curated outfits, keeping their love alive in writing. Their love story is the epitome of romance, detachment and curiosity.
I want to honour this timeless tradition. I want to write letters in my own handwriting now because I want to do something special and personal for my most valued people in these unprecedented times. The act of receiving something in the post in an envelope is exciting. Written words communicate the writer to the one reading the writing. It’s a shared experience that requires your undivided attention and creates a chance to be vulnerable and reveal things you wouldn’t say on a video call or in person.
I wanted to create long-lasting memories with these letters. I see them as physical copies of affirmation you can keep. During lockdown, we are mostly communicating through Facetime and Zoom, and while I won’t stop doing that, I also wanted to take a different approach to reminding my loved ones I am thinking of them.
I have written ten letters to ten people I consider my loved ones. They include my immediate family members, cousins, old and new friends around Bristol and Dorset. My housemates suggested to write specific affirmations instead of signing them off with Dear ___, on the envelopes. My housemate Sophia also used her calligraphy skills to help me with the writing. My hope is that the act of picking up a pen will be popularised again.
Has this inspired you to pick up a pen and write letters? Let us know on our social media.
Support more young people to have their voices heard
Rife is Watershed‘s online magazine created for young people, by young people.
We offer paid internships and publish work by young writers, photographers, illustrators, and filmmakers from all sorts of backgrounds, helping them get into creative careers. Rife has reached over 8,000 young people through our workshops, over 220 young people have made stuff for Rife on topics ranging from mental health to identity to baked beans, and last year, over 200,000 people visited our website.
In these complex and uncertain times hearing from and supporting young people who are advocating for social change and contributing fresh perspectives has never been so important.
Through supporting Rife you can ensure that this important work continues and that more young people have their voices heard.