Author – Karthika Balu
Everything in this world has a beginning and an end. Nobody and nothing can escape the hands of change; and it is a good thing. It makes way for the fresh and the novel. However, we cannot help but miss the charm of the old, dying and bygone. This is when the feeling of nostalgia envelops us and for some time, we relish ruminating the sweetness of the past.
Last week, it dawned upon me that one of our age-old social customs might be breathing its last. Just like e-mails have replaced letters, smart phones are over shadowing face-to-face conversations, video games are replacing outdoor ones and virtual relationships are out-numbering the tangible ones.
I am not talking about technology here, but the measure of true human involvement. For instance, e-mails do not let us see the distinct handwriting of our loved one, they don’t let us see those accidental coffee stains or ink marks and they don’t hold those slightly transformed blotches which revealed that our loved one had shed a tear or two while writing for us. From the other end, we don’t spend time to select the right paper or pen, or sit comfortably and take that deep breath before penning those first words remembering to be careful about writing neatly and beautifully. We don’t get to draw those patterns on the sides or decorate the pages with glitters and rose petals. I know how special these felt because of the pretty letters that I used to receive from one of my school besties! Those hand-written letters from friends constantly reminded me of their notebooks, the doodles and chits that we passed, and other such precious times together in school.
One of my favourite times has always been the advent of special days of special people in my life- be it their birthdays, weddings, anniversaries or festivals. The arrival of that month itself fills me with a tinge of excitement. Thoughts of how I can make that day special play on repeat mode in my head. The most important parts being, organising celebrations if any and “gifting”. I still remember organising various events during my hostel days in Mysore. We planned and executed everything from treasure hunts to lighting candles all over the corridor to decorating rooms and outdoors to what not!
To now read: Coming to gifts, buying that perfect one always takes so much of time and thought. When it comes to out of town family and friends, specifically those in India, I know I can always send cakes to Bangalore to surprise them on their big day. Right from rewinding our memories to those rare instances when that person would have expressed a wish, to tracking the needs of that person and knowing those tiny things/people/places that are dear to him/her, everything keeps your loved one in your thoughts constantly. That perfect outfit, that perfect watch, those apt toys, that thoughtful book- getting your hands on any of these takes time, patience and loads of love. Once the gift is decided upon, its time for the efforts. Efforts to go hunting for it, wrap it well, choose an accompanying card, look for the right words to pen down a wish for that special one, and to finally hide it in a proper place until that perfect moment of surprise, phew!
Then there are those even more special ones that we create with our very own hands. Remember how we used to draw and paint as kids and gift them to our loved ones? Thank God kids still do that! These handmade gifts could be anything- a poem, a card, a jar of one liners, a painting, a self stitched clothing or a hand knitted sweater. For me, these are extra special, for each word in that poem, every line in that jar, every stroke of brush, and every wave of those needles have thoughts about me in them!
Ah! This whole process sounds exhausting doesn’t it ? Yes, it is exhausting, very exhausting! However, that one priceless moment of watching sheer surprise and happiness in the eyes of your loved one is all it takes to forget all that hard work. That loving smile, the twinkle in their eyes, that little scream of excitement and those immediate hugs and kisses, make all those efforts completely worthwhile!
Gifts these days have begun to take a back seat. Gift cards, vouchers, cash etc. are the “In-things” now. No thoughts, no hard work, no drama- completely hassle-free. Times are changing, and it is a good thing; this change.
No more will parties leave behind heaps of gift boxes. The special one can buy whatever he pleases; no more does he have to adjust with things that failed to please him. Last but not least, the ones who are clueless about the art of gifting can breathe a sigh of relief!
I however, prefer to remain old school. So long as I am confident and know that my gifts are welcomed, I will take that long hard way to pick, create or do something special for them. Once this Art of Gifting dies or in cases opposing the above, I too will join the new school because change is certain and ultimately good too.