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Once Upon a Time There Was Mail


[dropcap]T[/dropcap]wo teenaged children who had just finished sending messages on their computer came and sat in their father’s study, “Tell us a story dad,” said the elder one while her brother nodded eagerly.

“Once upon a time,” said the father, “we had postmen!” “Postmen?” exclaimed the girl, “something like postmortem?”

“Or posthumous?” giggled her brother.

“Postmen,” continued the father grinning, “delivered mail!”

“Like email?”

“Snail mail was more like it,” said the father, “postmen picked up mail from post offices, got onto cycles and went from home to home delivering letters!”

“Like the courier man!” shouted the boy and his father beamed at him.

“However, unlike the courier boy, the postman never came to pick up a letter, you had to walk down a road till you came to a red box..”

“Like a dust bin?”

“And into that red box you threw in your letter!”

“And the garbage man came and cleared the bin?”

“Postman my son, the postman cleared the letters, took them to the post office, then sorted all of them out and sent them to railway stations where mail trains took those letters to places where other post men picked them up and delivered them home!”

“How long did all this take dad?” asked the breathless astonished daughter.

“It was supposed to take a day, but most often took a week, sometimes a month, and in a few instances a letter was delivered decades later!”

“Didn’t people object to such delays?”

“They had no choice children, the government owned the post office.”

“Suppose you threw the letter into the red box and the post man didn’t pick it up?”

“Well that happened many times, so the post office introduced certificates saying you had posted the letter! Whether it reached was a different issue, but you had a paper saying you had actually posted it!”

“And the postmen father? Where they good men?”

“Especially on festivals son! That was one day more postmen were seen at your doorstep than letters received the whole year. They came with open grins and empty wallets which had to be filled.”

“Why dad?”

“Well my girl, no money, no letter! Then there was the money order; by which people sent money through the postmen. After the postman gave you the money he waited!”

“For a cup of tea?”

“No for a percentage of the money you had received!”

“Dad!” cried both the children, “thank god we live in another age of couriers and e mail..!”

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