Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Love letters

“The most dramatic feature of electronic communication is surely its propensity to tempt us into dashing off a message in haste that we repent at leisure. As the emails ping into our inbox we answer them helter-skelter, breathlessly, without pausing to reflect on nuance or tone. As a consequence, misunderstandings often arise…”

“Today's electronic forms of communication may lack that emotional depth but they do enable us to connect more speedily and efficiently than I at least could manage with pen and ink. Still, when we take advantage of them, we ought always to heed (Virginia) Woolf's warning, never to write carelessly. And, if we can, at least count to 10, and read over what we have written, before we press "send"…

Lisa Jardine (BBC magazine)

I came across this article during my morning ritual of navigating the BBC website. I’ve always often wondered which is more dangerous; spoken words or unspoken words. The danger with spoken words is easily identifiable, it is almost impossible to take them back once the chords of the letters slip off the tongue and fly free. The split mini second or so it takes to travel and resonate the eardrums of the recipient is inadequate for the human brain to stop and process the impact of the words, before considering whether to reel it back in or not. The effect is almost intriguing to watch…

Alima’s lips formed into the words “I love you”…time moved in slow motion as the words rolled off her lips. It was easy to see the letters as they floated in the brisk winter breeze, almost teasing in flight, like the carefree motion of a drunk butterfly in summer, slowly the words found its way to Dmitriy’s ears and settled, letter by letter, till his eardrums tingled with the sensation, his eyes slowly lit up as his brain broke down the meaning of the words…He held her in his arms as their lips met…

It doesnt always work out like described above, beautiful words may get you peaches and cream, on the other hand, a reckless word can elicit a completely different reaction: tears, a slap, raised voices, maybe a headbutt, lol. Unspoken words are in a different league entirely, even more dangerous than spoken words. Some call it the silent treatment; others refer to it as zero-communication. Whichever name you give it; unspoken words often serve as the trigger to a reckless spoken word or a major misunderstanding. In the absence of words, people tend to read meaning into every action; it is natural, unless you belong to the IDGAF clique. How then do you strike a reasonable balance between talking too much and not talking at all? Emails, SMS and BBMs are like rapid fire bullets, coming at you like a swarm of excited bees.

Since the advent of electronic communication (Blackberrys being the chief culprit), our lives have been transformed from the normal sedate pace to a NASCAR speedtrack. It is so easy to hold multiple simultaneous convos with different people, your brain-cells multitasking and trying to align your words to suit the intended recipient.

Just after you send “I love you” to Cassie, you send “You suck” to Jerome, and then “LMAO” to Yvonne and then “U dey mad?” to Okon and “What are you wearing?” to Cynthia. Cassie replies with a “love you too”, Jerome with “your papa!”, Yvonne with a BBM smiley, Okon doesn’t reply and Cynthia replies with “I don’t understand”…Okon replies about 2 minutes later with “Bros, I’m straight”, then you realize that somehow you switched Okon and Cynthia’s messages. U try to call Cynthia but she won’t pick your call…the saga continues.

The art of letter writing has been lost, words have become empty, emotions replaced by emoticons, and love has become efficient and cold. Whatever happened to the love letters of the 90s?

Dear Nkem,

How are you? It has been months since I last saw you and I keep dreaming about you all the time. My friends say that you must have cast a spell on me, my response to them is that my heart belongs to you, so no spells are necessary. It is very cold here, the oyibo people say that this year’s winter is mild, I find that hard to believe. Each night, I curl up like a little boy under my blanket and slowly drift off to sleep, it almost feels as if I can reach out and touch you in my dreams. Your body scent still lingers in my mind and I can still taste your lips and feel the smooth curves of your body. Waking up in the morning is always hard for me but I have to work so I can take care of you. I remember you said that you don’t want us to live in the village; even though I’ve told you numerous times that I wouldn’t mind farming to take care of you.

I hope Kachi is taking good care of you. I will write her also to thank her. Make sure you eat well, you have to feed ‘our’ body. I’ve been checking up the price of goats and cows as I told you, the prices are not so cheap but I’ll keep working hard to raise the money. Don’t worry about the village umu nna, when the time is right I will speak to them, even if they demand 10 cows, we’ll always find a way.
I have to go now. It is getting rather late here. It has been long since I wrote by candle light, but they never take light here so I decided to turn off the lights and pretend that I’m still home.

Till I see you again…Kachifo!

Your loving boyfriend,

NB: It may take a month for this letter to get to you, even though my words may be delayed or lost in transit, I’ll always love you.

How about that for old school writing? Let me know your thoughts! My recurrent new year resolution is to talk less, it never seems to work. I've been told to stop trying it :)