【明報專訊】The ancient profession of letter-writing embodies some intimate qualities. Sealed away from public eyes, a letter's content is exclusive, unlike its counterpart on postcards that invite the scrutiny of the curious postman. Letter is also the least intrusive form of communication. The humble envelope shields the crafted text away for as long as its receiver wishes. For the writer, a letter's length allows artful tailoring. Every edit leaves an imprint on the same paper, documenting not only the end-message, but also the process of thoughts. Finally, hand-written characters beat all the fonts in the latest Mac OS. Letters are a rare privilege that few of us still have the privilege to receive.
Last year, I started a "letter-writing service" to get a relish of the ancient profession I admire. The service is self-explanatory. People can arrange a one-hour-chat session with me to turn their stories/messages into text to be sent to a designated recipient. The experience was humbling — it was a privilege to be entrusted with stories, and to deliver them with well wishes.
Jason (pseudonym) was a cautious middle-aged man who inquired about writing to his father, who has been a figure of authority and terror throughout his early years. Now that he no longer lives with his father, the two of them have not spoken for over three years. As we tried identifying the message to include in the letter, Jason was stuck. In his voice was sadness and trauma that refused to materialise into words. After repeated struggles, he decided to abandon the idea to reconnect with his father.
I met Jason a year later, after receiving an urgent call from him, whose father was admitted to ICU after an accident. Surprisingly, the story he wanted to tell played like a recording — as if he had spent the last year mentally editing it. There was no request for a letter, perhaps knowing his father would barely be able to read it anymore.
I walked out of the restaurant with guilt. Perhaps I should have just written, "your son wants to talk to you. Call him."
Mona C. has a strong appetite for stories. Feed her enough.