It was an unforgettable memory I had during my service period as a librarian in the Nursing College of Christian Medical College Hospital (CMCH) at Vellore. Joyce, a friend of mine, after her studies got a job in England and settled there. In those days, some people followed an economic practice. They took “inland covers” from India and waited for friends planning to visit India. As soon as somebody was going, they had written letters for all their friends and relatives, to be posted when they reached home.
Joyce sent me letters in this way. Once, when she was writing my address, the friend who was taking the letters was in a hurry. So Joyce wrote the first two lines, my name, post (librarian) and the work place. Joyce requested her friend to fill the rest of the address as she wrote letters to some other friends of CMCH. He agreed, but after reaching New Delhi, forgot the request and posted the letter.
At the post office it was held up as there was no destination. They had seen the “Tamil letters” through the side opening and a Tamil staffer of the postal section was consulted. He suggested sending it through his niece, Rukmani, who had come to Delhi for a holiday and was returning to Chennai where she was doing her postgraduation. While giving the letter, the man instructed Rukmani to find out the addressee. If she was not able to do so, she could destroy the letter.
At Nagpur, another Tamil girl, Meena, a medical student of Coimbatore Medical College, boarded the same compartment.
Meena had just visited her brother, a librarian at a Nagpur medical research centre. The word librarian made Rukmani remember the letter and she shared the news with her. Meena asked, “Is she a librarian of a Nursing College?” Rukmani confirmed it. Meena replied, “This person may be a member of the Medical Librarians’ Association.” It was only an assumption, but she wanted to check it. So, she opened her suitcase and took out a book, Conference proceedings of Medical Librarians.
Meena had taken it from her brother just to read it. She checked at the back where names and addresses of the members were given. Her assumption turned out to be right. I was a member and attended the same conference. Soon, they found my complete address.
After two days I received an envelope with my address from Rukmani. I opened it and found the inland and a detailed narration of the letter’s voyage from the Delhi post office till it was posted in Chennai by Rukmani.
At last, the inland completed its voyage from England to Vellore. No extra charge except for a 35-paisa stamp. But, Rukmani posted it in an envelope with her letter. I wanted to send a Thank You response to Rukmani. But, like Joyce, she too hadn’t written the address. Instead, she just wrote “Rukmani, Madras”.