Postcards From Bapak - Sept 11 2007
These days, people hardly send postcards. People hardly write letters, even. Ask your kid to pen a letter and he/she will probably pull a face before giving you a weird look as though you're not from this planet.
The letters I have been receiving are from the banks, the clubs and the telcos. You have to read them just so you don't overlook any warning that you have been negligent in your payment.
Friends don't write me letters. They send SMSes and emails. Okay, so I know we are living in this century. Sometimes I forget that.
I think I've been revelling too much in the past.
The internet, of course, is amazing, An incredible "invention". Out of this world. It takes us anywhere in an instant.
You get to send emails. Communication across the oceans in real time.
But, you know, I don't like sending emails. I know it is an effective form of communication.
I don't know why but I always sound so impersonal in my emails. And I often seem to want to get it over and done with. I don't enjoy writing emails.
But who writes letters these days, anyway?
Well, I do... just give me a pen and a paper. Ok, ok... just my notebook and I can "write and write". And I will make a print-out of the letter to be put in an envelope, stamped and posted. Very old-fashioned. Very satisfying.
So, postcards? I can count the number I have received from anyone the last five years. Ten years even.
Gone are those days.
I know Rocky sends postcards to friends whenever he is overseas.
The last one I received from him was when he was in Sardinia. That was cool.
I got another from my dear friend, Shamsul Akmar, just after he arrived in the UK late last year.
I make a point of sending postcards to my children whenever I am abroad. The last were from Holland and Pakistan.
Sometimes I don't have to be that faraway to want to send people postcards, like from Penang or Terengganu.
I love the postcards in Sabah and Sarawak.
Postcards give you a sense of being wherever you are. Usually far away.
I suppose in this day and age, we are made to remember that it is a borderless world. Nowhere is too far away.
Bapak used to send us postcards those days when he was a journalist covering overseas assignments in the 60s.
I know I have them stored safely somewhere in my trove of treasures. One day, I will take them out and read them, one by one which really is not hard to do because Bapak wrote simple one-liner or two.
He would send one each to Kak Olin, Kak Eda and I. Sometimes, he'd send to Azah and Kamal too.
When he was in Africa covering the Non-Aligned Movement conferences, we'd get postcards from faraway places.
In big scripts, Bapak would write -- "Olin, Cairo is very historical. Bapak".
Or from Sudan: "Ena, It is hot in Khartoum. Bapak"
Of course, sometimes he'd send to "Olin, Eda & Ena, It is cold in Sarajevo. Beautiful country. Bapak".
Everytime Bapak went abroad, we'd wait anxiously for postcards from him.
I'd rush into the house after school to check for any post card from him.
We'd all be so excited.
And oh! Just to look at the pictures on the postcards!
I remember the postcard from Khartoum. It showed a picture of a woman clad in Sudanese attire with a traditional headwear.
I kept on looking at the picture.
Yes, I remember my young mind thinking -- Bapak is in a strange land far far away.
When I first went overseas (not counting Singapore) and arrived in London in 1979, the first thing I did was to buy postcards to be sent to family and friends.
I think I have not stopped doing that. Like I said, even when I am somewhere not faraway, I'd be thinking about sending a postcard.
But I wonder whether Adel and Shaira have kept the postcards I sent them, as I have kept the ones Bapak sent me.
I have never asked them. I don't think I will.