As a child I used to have pen pals from Finland, Togo, and the USA and they were as dear to me as my friends at school. This was many years ago, but around 2015, fed up with the humble bragging and influencing on social media, I started trying to find pen pals again. Turns out- there are people out there that are still into pen pals!
Now I have two pen pals- both from the USA- and we have a nice time exchanging letters (sometimes handwritten, sometimes e-mail) with each other. The first, originally from Vietnam, is a Target store manager in the south-west. Nearly 60 but lives a full life. It is a joy to receive her letters full of stories about her daughters and grand daughters. The other is a young gentleman, very much young, working odd jobs in forestry and agriculture in a part of the USA ravaged by institutional poverty, drug use, and business stagnation.
My young friend and I get along very well. I have only ever visited less than 10 countries in the world, but my friend listens to my travel stories in wonderment. In his introductory letter he said, “Tell me about how you left home and visited many countries. I wish I had the means to travel. This is why I practice my penmanship every day, so that when I write letters to my friends, my handwriting gives them a good impression of myself.”
I cried on reading that letter, and, when I remember it, I sometimes still find tears in my eyes. Not in sadness but in awe of the dignity that resides in every living being- the dignity every living being deserves. In Bengali we sing:
“A small earth beneath a blue sky
And a blue sky above a small earth
Have you seen
Small creatures with small hopes
On a small earth
Have you seen”