Things Happen to Letters

There was a small pile of old letters, kept in their envelopes tied carefully with a pink ribbon.  That might mean that they were love-letters, filled with romance, but they were more likely telling of exotic adventures.    The true contents will remain an unattainable mystery forever, to recent generations.    The letters were well-read and re-read from about 1906, when they had first started to arrive weekly, after a long bush land journey and sea voyage, to reach a suburban corner in England.     The letters would have told of unique experiences in a remote, sparsely populated, mountainous region in Africa.    The more unusual, since the stories were emerging from a young Irish bride, fresh from her home and land.    Her descendants later heard of idyllic tropical settings, where malaria might be rife, and improvisation a daily challenge.    Postings to lower areas, entailed long, dusty, wagon journeys; ant-hill ovens; fires by night to keep the growling lions at bay...    ( Yet, one time, a family dog , missed on departure, caught up with the travelling party, after some weeks , with painful paws, but happily re-united.)

The girl might have recounted adaptions, hazards, tragedies, too, but it was not in her nature to complain.   Life slowly headed to the towns, to new family creations. Her sisters, living formally and traditionally in Bournemouth, may have been riveted by the letters, so different and far from their safety, but not with envy, it was noted. The letters were devotedly penned, and sent, until their author’s demise in the 1950s. The home in England, with Its’ pile of old letters bursting with history, sunlight and ventures, eventually passed on to family nieces, whose aunt had saved the letters, among family albums, antiques... Her very very old cat died just ahead of her. The nieces later explained: ‘you know what old people are... they clutter so much. We made a bonfire in the garden and burnt the lot’. 

I am thinking more letters, in more old envelopes adorned with an array of Stamps and handwriting, from all over the world.   Who will ever have the courage to explore through each one... a writer, perhaps?  These letters still live in large rooms, in large trunks, in an old family stone home, fairly remotely, among the mountains of northern Italy.  In this case, avalanches of black & white photographs share the same, and other spaces, stemming from a life well-recorded, well-stretched, illustrated, and travelled.     The recipient and exchangers of these numerous letters and records, built up a picture of a life filled with colourful stories, history, and historical periods, and company.     He is gone now; so far, the letters ‘wait’....

A few years ago, for a few months, I spent time in my old home overseas, with family. With time to open up stored memories ... and Letters.     Letters exchanged and treasured; youthful experiences and ponderings. even some of my own, excitedly regaling tales of travels.    Inevitably, choices had to be made, I.e. paper recycling.  But I was able to relive, revive, remind, and wonder at the nature and searchings of lasting friends.

Letters?    Hand-written, slowly relics of the past? Post offices and stamps?   Perhaps   It remains Roses by another name? Minds, communications, poetry, stories, life, love and hate!  we find a way... 

Amai lived abroad, now in England, enjoying words on line.