You know how you start to write a letter and automatically start to address the recipient as ‘Dear’? I’ve always pondered about that. Sometimes, I’ve written ‘Dear’ to folks I could not whole heartedly call as dears. In fact there have been a few where my imagination drew a blank at even trying to imagine anybody else doing so.
A case in point: There was once this man to whom I had to address a letter. He was a Deputy Sub Registrar of something in a government office in India. As is the practice, I had to use the opening “Dear Mr So and So”. But believe me, never have I found a man less dear to me in all my life. It may have been the fact that I witnessed the man at his bossy best. He was man-handling a sorry looking sallow faced peon without actually touching him. How is that possible you ask? Well, the man’s legs were squeaking under him and his knees were positively quivering with emotion, not to mention the stuttering and the silent unshed tears. He had a patchy pendulum like motion going. His body seemed to oscillate with the frequency of the deputy to the sub assistant head registrar’s tone of voice. If those aren’t symptoms of being manhandled, I don’t know what are. I asked somebody nearby what the row was about and he answered that “Saar” being an important person was entitled to get angry at peons like this. Apparently, the great power and responsibilities of being a sub deputy assistant registrar or whatever he was, was too much for the man to handle, and he was therefore entitled to behave in this appalling manner.
What I would have liked to do was address the fellow as an “Egotistic procrastinating shirker” (I had requested for something five times already, and had nothing to show for it other than carbon copies of my own letters.) The peon in question told me it is not a good idea to draw his attention to that fact – I had written a loving letter enclosing copies of all my previous letters and rounded off with polite sarcasm by asking him when he would be able to consider my repeated requests. Which was why my heart went out to the peon. He knew the man and his habits, and he had evidently saved my letter from being ripped apart in anger and the shredded peices joining the breeze on a hot day.
Dear Sub Assistant – my foot was my general feeling then.
So, it isn’t with too much regret that the practice when it comes to emails has shifted to the more informal ‘Hi’ – I don’t mind saying hi. with ‘Dear’, one had to use the superlative for folks one really considers dear. So one uses ‘Dearest’ for dear folks and ‘My dear dearest’ for dearest and it was all most confusing.
I would like to see the reaction of the s.a.d.registrar when the peon hollers a ‘Hi’ at him and asks for something to be done.
2 thoughts on “If Dear were dear”
One of the advantages of moving to email from snail mail. 🙂
I know – I am glad that in the software industry, we don’t use ‘Sir’ and Ma’am etc as well. Makes life so much easier…