The mixed emotions of joy and grief when the postman rang the doorbell and shouted, ‘Telegram’ will no longer be heard. The beauty of writing telegrams to our loved ones in distant places has gradually come to an end with the dawn of smart phones, emails and SMSes. The old telegrams which had an emotional connect with people was pushed to the corner when the government owned telecom giant Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) decided to put an end to this mode of communication, after providing over 160 years of service.
Back then, mothers waiting for telegrams from their working sons in towns across the country or even wives of soldiers waiting with bated breath to hear from their husbands are some of the unforgettable memories of the yesteryear. The demise of telegrams has disheartened the elderly in the city.
Recalling some of the most memorable incidents of the yesteryear, Marianne de Nazareth, a freelance writer said, “I remember my father getting his promotion while he was in the Indian Air Force through a telegram. When the telegram reached us, informing us about dad’s promotion, there was a lot of excitement in the house and lots of goodies were made. Friends came over to congratulate my father. However, my parents were always scared of telegrams as they meant to be messengers of death.”
She also recalled how her parents or a helper would run out to get the pink paper with white stripes which would be hurriedly read and thrown away. “Dad would crush the telegram and throw it into the bin, or tear it into small bits as it normally meant to bring death news. By then, my mother would always be crying over the loss,” she explained.
However, many feel that the art of writing letters will soon die down thanks to telegrams becoming extinct. Speaking about the bygone era of telegrams, Prem Rao, writer said, “I am afraid that many of them have already forgotten the art of writing letters. Text messaging is the biggest offender which has led to an abbreviated language. In the olden days, writing (and receiving) a letter was a joy in itself. One used words to describe what one saw, felt and in the process it considerably improved your command over the language. Letter writing was an art form. It doesn’t have to be archaic but it still could be interesting and enthralling.”
On contrary, the young, tech-savvy generation believe that telegram is losing its significance in the fast-paced world just like VCR and cassettes. Aravind K G, PhD student said, “Personally, I do not see any charm in reading or writing telegrams as the same message can be convey through SMSes or e-mails with low cost and shortest period of time.”
Echoing similar opinion, Jagannath S, MNC professional said that it is a wise decision by the government as it facilitates the authorities to reduce the overall maintenance cost. “The basic goal of messengers is to communicate with others. I still remember the days when we were anxious after sending letters. We were never sure if the telegram reached safely or not. But now, technology has facilitated one to send messages instantly,” he said.