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On the lingering fragrance of old letters

I was cleaning up one of my study drawers (because I was trying to find a piece of paper and could not find it, story of my life) when I happened on an envelope full of letters from my family when I was away at college.

They were lying there forgotten, having been dutifully carried as I moved from city to city, country to country.

Writing letters was a necessity then, phone calls were expensive and nobody had heard of the internet.

I held up the folded sheafs of paper filled with my dad’s neat handwriting, my aunt’s occasional scrawls and my sister’s quick scribbles and sifted through them one by one. A turn of phrase here, a word of love and longing there, scattered about in those aging pages. The letters smelt of home: of mum’s cooking, of dad’s garden, my sister’s hugs—they were all there, pressed within the folds of those precious letters, a sum-total of my teenage and youth.

I have moved on since then, I call my parents across the seas and exchange emails with my sister. But the exchanges float away in ether. As I grow old, I’m afraid I would have only the fragrance of these frail old letters to take me back to those times long gone.

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her next literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and was published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • Patti Hall says:

    I know, I know, you wrote this years ago, but I often start at the beginning when I visit new (to me) blogs. This post is absolutely beautiful. May I suggest you re-post it for those who don’t start at the bottom?

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