Letter writing with my ‘great grandmother’


Back in my school days, I remember the frequency of letters that people used to write for communication. Be it in postal card, or sealed inside envelopes, people could write pages of messages for the dear ones located far from home. Letters traveled across globe delivering hand-written messages, with love.

I remember those letter pads stacked in the shelf, that mom used to write to my father.  Along with it were different colors of pens, sticking out of the pen stand with other stationery objects placed on the top slab, just visible enough for me from I stood. The shelf tickled my curiosity as a school boy, to climb up the top slab to explore and steal some for school, which mom was watchful over me whenever she opens it and rarely allowed me to climb.

It was in my 7th or 8th grade, that I could recall those fine afternoons helping my late great grandmother, Umm Salma,  in writing letters to her daughter and to her grandchildren. We called her with love as Umm’amma, literally meaning ‘grandmother’. She was a lovely woman, independent, living alone in her house located at a stone’s throw away from our house.

She must had been in her late sixties or early seventies that time. She could not write and sought my help which I happily obliged. I go on weekend afternoons. The moment she opens the door, a happy smile would flash to welcome me. The notepad, with writing pens already kept at the table indicated that there wont be any delay to begin. We both would sit in the wooden rectangular swing in the hall, spacious enough to accommodate more than couple of people. The brass rods are suspended to support the four ends of the swing.

The letter writing starts like this. She would start dictating the words as if she was talking with the recipient of the letter, as I begin writing. The beginning of the letter to anybody remained same. The salutation and the prayers to the recipient never changed.

‘Dear . . . . . , May almighty give you long healthy life, enough wealth with bounty of happiness. Aamen . I’m doing great with God’s grace and hope everyone is good too . . . . . ‘  and the story goes on.

She was very careful with her words, and make them clear for me to understand and write. I have never taken proper classroom notes and don’t remember doing so, at any point of life. But then I was careful and it was not a hard task. She would dictate as if talking with the person while I’m hurrying with the writing not to miss anything. She would wait for me to complete the sentence. When I’m done she would begin the next. I was like a reporter interviewing a celebrity, careful not to miss a word of her quotes.

She at times made me write more than couple of letters. It used to be a quite long, covering pages after pages. After every turn, intending to take break, my arms weree stretched and knuckles bent, that made her smile and ask ‘Oh dear, are you feeling pain in your hand ?’, to which my replies used to be ‘No Umm’amma, I’m just stretching them’. She would convince me that it will be over soon. As a token of gratitude, she would ask me to mention that I’m helping her in writing this letter, to which I proudly include at the footer. When we are done, the instructions were to carefully fold them and tuck them in the envelopes, bearing the recipient address.

She would thank me and always used to ask me if I would need anything to drink. Then before I take leave, she would say words of praise and utter prayers to God.

It’s one of the precious moments spent with her, that I’m able to relish now and thankfully I did not refuse to do at that age. Its certain that she taught me how to write a letter.

She had an amiable smile, a wide grin that one could never get tired of watching. So lovely and so motherly, warm and comforting. I at times joked with her, to which she would never scowl. She was the nightingale of our family, ‘A lady with love’ 🙂

Grandparents are the blessings of our lives and so lovely, aren’t they?

– In remembrance of our Umm’amma

#Letters #Mail #HandWritten #GreatGrandMother 

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