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Saturday, 9 January 2016

To Snowflake with Love

This story is dedicated to my only pen pal whom I met through a postal mail address exchange section in a children's magazine. 

More than 20 years ago in Delhi.

Her pen-name was Snowflake, like mine was Mowgli. Our real names were not revealed for the six years we were in touch. We lost connection somewhere at the turn of the 21st Century with the commotion of growing into adulthood. Meanwhile, I also carelessly lost my old diary of names and addresses somewhere between travels, moving homes, jobs and countries.

She wanted to gift me something on Christmas and parted with a silver bell locket that her uncle had gifted her 


Snowflake was born in North Korea and was then deeply moved by the 90s famine situation in her country. Children were the most affected. In her last letter which came after a year-long break, she said she was now in a good shape but when she left North Korea was very weak. Her uncle visited her when she was receiving social adjustment training after she arrived South Korea. I remember while reading this I could not hold back my sobbing. I was imagining her away from her family or something more terrible that must have happened. But I was also distracted and amazed at how much she was now keen to talk about origami! The art of making paper sculptures.

That letter came with many miniature paper sculptures that kept me occupied for hours long tracing its folds. She must have made them even during famine and the cross-country migration when she met 'poor children who had frost-bitten toes'. She must have found solace in folding paper. It is perhaps her hobby that kept her spirit together in the folds of the paper, neatly secured in right angles. Her letters were folded in interesting ways. Sometimes it opened into a fish. I clearly remember that the last one opened into a kite.

She had completed the later half of the last letter in Seoul. She had changed. I was too young to even pronounce personality then. But I remember I felt or rather sensed Snowflake melting into a new place.

The last paragraph of the letter had a date seven months after she reached Seoul. She had joined a new school. She wanted to gift me something on Christmas and parted with a silver bell locket that her uncle had gifted her long ago. I still have the locket and look at it more often than wear it. It reminds me how kind she is and that I had a special place in her life.

I miss you Snowflake. 

I missed you when I picked a book on origami and gifted it last Christmas to someone our age when we first wrote to each other. I missed you each time I read anything about Korea in the news. I missed you when I met the Coreyah band of contemporary musicians from your country in Abu Dhabi last year. I think of you when the CD plays Korean folk numbers in my car. Your thoughts flew to me in the Alps when snowflakes touched my bare skin before disappearing. 

You taught me that people come together and go away for no reasons logically possible to establish. And hence we must celebrate exploring every moment we have with anyone who is in our lives at the moment and be willing to let go when things change.

Today, after a long long time, am wearing the silver bell you gave and hope you are fine wherever you are. And somehow I am pretty sure you are more than fine! I am so happy we met through our letters. Thanks to the universe who facilitated that.

Happy New Year!

Your's truly
Mowgli

[PS: Remember you wanted me to get the red shorts that Mowgli had - coincidentally just after I got your last letter and when I went home for vacations, mother had bought me red shorts! I thought she was fooling me as a pen pal, like parents do for Santa Clause. But then mother told me she couldn't get the Korean postal services to stage so much drama. I had to believe her.]

About the author: Archana RD aka B'lu is a contemporary artist-writer currently based in the Middle East

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a lovely story for the New Year. I especially like how you were able to remember such details from your pen pal letters. I wish I had saved mine from grade school or even remembered the name of the girl from Sweden who I exchanged a few letters. You are lucky. Mostly I love that you recognize how fleeting each meeting, each communication we have with others is important and to know that the universe acts as a kind of friendship train...as those we meet on the train are passengers for life or maybe just a few stops but somehow they enrich our lives if we just take notice. Enjoy your silver bell locket. Thanks for sharing. xo LalaLaurette

bluvian said...

Thank you Laurette :)... yes universe is truly a friendship train... Isn't it? :)