Power of the Written Word
friend of mine, bereft for two years with the grief of her
husband leaving her as husbands do, finally succumbed to
getting engaged to another and better. She being lovely,
accomplished and earning a salary that puts her in the top
tax bracket (which was her first mistake, as marriage guidance
counselors say you must never admit to earning more than
your husband) could have done so after the second day after
his departure. Male interest in her is easily aroused. But
nothing could touch her heart until this man. So what is
it he did?
wrote her love letters and quoted Elizabeth Barrett Browning:
“How do I love thee, let me count the ways.” When she told
us this, the two of us, her two best friends from school
immediately fell in love with the same man. We know she
will understand, as she knows this universal truth: Nothing
gets a woman quicker or more thoroughly than a well-written
letter. Preferably one of the love-letter genre.
the power of the written word.
And what inspired Ms. Browning to write those immortal words?
How can she not, after receiving from Robert Browning: “Now
listen to me. You're every gesture, every movement, every
word pleases me. I will not have an atom of it otherwise.”
how could she not?
I for one could not. And none of my friends could either.
We would all start copying out "How do I love thee"
Many Ways, etc. and sending them if anyone ever wrote "Listen
To Me," etc.
just this, this realisation that someone focused on you
so intensely, he thought of you so much that he gathered
writing paper, a pen, some time and a secluded corner to
write his heart out to you knowing that once the letter
is sent (envelope closed and sealed and stamped with his
own hand) it's forever. That he wants you to know that this
is final, he is with you and it's not a temporal telephone
conversation that can be forgotten or not remembered correctly.
brief, the written words of endearment enchant.
written word that enchants a woman need not always be a
love letter. On the same plane is the writing of a book
(of poetry and not Accounting or Mechanics if you don't
mind) and dedicating it to you. This is a rare cosmic event
and you need to be the right person or even the wrong person
at the right place and time.
my friends and I were university students, there was this
boy who used to actually read all the Bertrand Russells
we carried around to show off our (mythical) intellectual
heights. We stayed away from him in case he started discussing
any. That he was skinny, wore huge thick glasses and was
ugly helped in getting us to stay away. Giving up on us,
he got together with a girl wearing similar glasses from
some department unknown and we saw them standing in corners,
he passionately expounding on whatever, and she just smiling
then his poetry book came out published by the Oxford University
Press and dedicated to her. His Muse and Inspiration. We
nearly committed mass suicide. We wanted our names on the
Dedication Page of his poetry book…too late!
they are still in love. Happily married, but not to each
other and living in different countries, he in some world
capital and she in Dhaka. Which illustrates another universal
truth: if you want to stay in love, always marry someone
else and live at a great distance from your beloved.
there is a competition on the Greatest Love Letter Ever
Written, one of the top ten is going to be Napolean Bonaparte's
letter to Josephine. He begins, “I love you no longer; on
the contrary, I detest you. You're a wretch, truly perverse,
truly stupid…You never write to me at all, you do not love
your husband; you know the pleasure that your letters give
him yet you cannot even manage to write him half a dozen
lines, dashed off in a moment. What then do you do all day,
cannot really say I love you with more passion than that.
But make sure you tell her you are quoting Napolean, if
you are going to use the first two sentences only!
they say it's always the man who writes the first letter,
it's always women who hang onto these letters long after
the man has died, or even worse, gone off with someone else.
Or, and this is the unkindest cut of all, becomes someone
who doesn't even remember he wrote any. Women will moon
over the letters, carry them all over the world with them
and they will become the substitute for the person who once
wrote “Escape me? Never. Beloved!” …and now cannot remember
or is writing to somebody else.
Maric, beloved and then wife to Albert Einstein, preserved
each and every one of the hundreds of love letters he wrote
to her. Einstein only managed to keep eleven of her replies.
That's men for you.
women will be women. Which is why Nobonita Dev Sen, the
celebrated Indian academic, writer and wit, went nuts when
her luggage got lost in an American airport. When they asked
her what she had in the suitcase that she was going to pieces
over and would she give an approximate value so that they
could reimburse, she writes she could not admit that it
was a bunch of letters wrapped in a silk scarf. Finally
her suitcase was found and the letters with it and she lost
them again, this time on a train journey. She tried to console
herself by thinking that the man who wrote the letters was
gone, so she should let the letters go as well. I think
we can guess the identity of the man who had loved, written
and gone…to win the Nobel Prize. But the letters were still
being treasured by the receiver.
is the power of the written word, words actually written
on paper in the sender's own handwriting. Not typed on the
computer screen. Just press “delete” for those. For the
ones written on paper and put in envelopes, the “delete”
button does not work for one half of the human race.