ODE TO A DYING ART
By Padya Paramita
Home sweet home, she sighed as she looked at her old room. So much time had passed since she had been here, curled up in a corner, reading or listening to music. All those years away from the country and this was the place she had missed the most. She went to her table and rummaged through the old dusty paperbacks. Suddenly faded yet bright colours caught her eye. Beneath the old DVDs lay a card. She quickly picked it up, “We'll miss you,” it said in bold red. Tears filled up her eyes as she read each of the wonderful messages her old school friends had written with care before her departure. Why hadn't she taken this with her? Where were all these friends now? Could she find them? Perhaps on Facebook.
Greeting cards are no longer the force they used to be. Birthdays, death-days, anniversaries, graduations, whatever the occasion, someone or the other would remember it. And they would find the time to either fold a paper or run to the nearest Hallmark to grab a greeting card for their loved one.
Face it, nowadays, people don't really mark their calendars to remind themselves of an occasion. Neither can they find the time to grab a marker and write a message on a card. Everybody seems to be on the run, and if Facebook reminds them, it's a quick birthday wish with the press of a button. If you're lucky that is. Or else, you will later be reminded of how everyone runs on a schedule and they are sorry that they forgot. They won't even get you an “I'm Sorry” card.
The beauty of greeting cards was not only about the attractive illustrations. The message had to be good. It had to take the recipient to a time he or she spent with the one who gave them the card. Messages came in all sorts. The headlines were a guide to the rest of the card. They could be as precise as “Wow” or “Good Job” to as long as “The world became a better place the day you were born.” The rest of the card elaborated on it. Those who preferred to present handmade cards would always compete with Hallmark to make their message sweeter. Efficiency was the beauty of card messages.
Today, people have even seemed to forget how much fun it was to give and receive cards. “Why would I want a piece of paper when money would clearly be more useful?” shrugs a nonchalant 19-year-old, while someone else points out that she never enjoyed receiving a card and it would make her feel sorry for the person who spent all that time and money picking out something she didn't appreciate. An environmentally conscious teen replied amusedly that he thought the trees should not be cut down for such pointless things.
We've talked to people who said cards are a beautiful way of letting someone know you are there from them. Most of them were older people, who grew up without e-cards, but that doesn't matter. There is supposedly a sense of sincerity and tangibility to receiving a card. It signified the fact that a person had spent time on it and the mere fact that you can hold it in your hand adds some subtle value to it. “It's the difference between actually holding a book in your hand, getting that fresh paper scent, physically turning the pages, and reading an e-book,” says Mastura. On my last birthday, my friends gave me a gigantic card with about 40 amazing messages written on them. I read all of them almost every day and feel grateful to have such irreplaceable people in my life.
Greeting cards are sweet. They have the ability to make your heart melt. Specially if you're reading them after a long time. So, next time one of your dear ones turn 18, or get married, or get a job, go ahead, make a card. Or go to store. Bring the cards back.