I was born in an era of typewriters, snail-mail letters, no mobile phones, no emails, no personal computers. I still write letters by (untidy) hand and send them through the post. I’ve a treasure trove of letters written to me over a lifetime stashed away in my kist, including a love note from my husband, typed on a typewriter on a phone message note about 25 years ago :-), and a wonderful letter from a stranger regarding my father’s death notice in the newspaper.
And a few years ago, I discovered the many letters and postcards I’d written to my youngest niece over the years after I emigrated adorned the inside of her cupboard doors – she’d kept them all. We both prize what people have taken the time to write with us in mind.
There is one letter, though, that really breaks my heart when I re-read it now. It’s from a boy who grew up in South Africa in the years just after Apartheid officially ended. His name is Freedom and, at the time that he wrote this letter, he was a child without very many worldly possessions at all, but he was loved, and was full of joy and hope. And, as his letter shows, he had a genuine appreciation for so very little. Freedom’s mum, widowed early in her marriage, worked beyond hard to give him a good education, and she had high hopes for his future. He is now a young man but, unfortunately, due to some nefarious influences and bad choices, his life isn’t turning out so well.