Mbulelo Mpofu, Showbiz Reporter
THIS other day I was going through my stuff in my treasure box. I was honestly bored since we had no electricity and guess what I stumbled upon! No, it was not money. Neither was it an old diary full of daily nothings, somethings and everything in between.
It was a timeless love letter. Yes, a physical letter that my first love wrote to me. I don’t know whether it was pure coincidence or what, but I happened to have been listening to Blaq Diamond’s Love Letter as well.
Dated 11 years ago, this paper and ink took me back to the years when this type of communication was trendy.
Not only was it trendy though. It was romantic as well since you would keep a copy safe, now and then, repeatedly reading obsessively.
Engraved on those pages were lyrics to popular songs as men and women, boys and girls professed their undying love for each other. Talk of your Craig David’s, Usher, Shayne Ward and Beyonce Knowles.
These guys kept us in the game of love with their lyrical prowess in the content of love.
Trust me, women acted like they did not know that guys would curate lyrics and use them as pick-up lines when matters of the heart came calling.
Now, back to the letter that I unearthed deeply buried in my treasured box. It was written with a black pen, but a heart drawn with a red pen was its letterhead.
This is the time when umjolo (dating) was about lyrical poetry and this scared the hell out of guys since we had to be well-versed in the art of love.
My girlfriend was going away on vacation to South Africa in December and in this instalment, penned on her penultimate day prior to departure en-route to the City of Gold, she poured her heart out.
My girlfriend and I were hopeless romantics indeed and in her letter, she made an allusion to losing breath and walking out of dreams. It was like I was listening to Shayne Ward’s Breathless.
There was always that signature signing off attached to our letters, “Kisses and hugs. Your affectionate, Mbulelo.”
Complementary to the letter which she wrote, she left behind her T-shirt with me as a keepsake.
Back in the day, before the advent of WhatsApp, Instagram, and Twitter, lovebirds would convey their feelings through evergreen physical hand-written letters.
The festive season is a time of love and affection where bloodlines are tied and bonds are strengthened.
When was the last time you wrote or received one? Is it a good idea nowadays to pen a letter to a loved one? When children are writing to Santa Claus, what are you doing?
Saturday Leisure took to the streets of Bulawayo to ascertain answers to the aforementioned questions.
Romantics in Bulawayo relished the chance to be taken down memory lane to an era where one’s handwriting skills and knowledge of lyrics to popular songs were special.
Gwen Mahlangu surely knows how to put her money where her mouth is. This was evidenced in her producing a letter dating back to 1999 when her then-fiancé Mike Mahlangu wrote her a goodbye letter. He was headed to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for greener pastures. Even after such a long time, she kept her “treasure”.
Gwen vividly remembers the day she got the letter from the cycle-ridden man.
“It was an early Friday morning when I headed for the letterbox and to be honest, this was just a routine check. I didn’t think that I would find anything there but yeah, I did. It was visual gold. My Mike had written a love letter for me.
He was informing me of his intentions of leaving the country. It was a bittersweet feeling since it tore my heart just thinking that he wouldn’t be in the country.
“To me, writing love letters is simply therapeutic and that is the very reason why I do it. It gives me some time out from the hustles and bustles that life throws at us time and again.
I know that we now have email, WhatsApp and everything else, but from time to time, we (my husband and I) remind each other of the early 2000s when we used to write letters to each other.”
Another romantic, Juliet Sadza writes letters to show her creative side and to pour out her heart to her boyfriend. To her, seeing her boyfriend’s handwriting is the most authentic thing that could ever happen to her.
“I love the feeling, I love the hand cramps, the rush to get everything down on paper and kissing a sealed envelope. I love it all. It’s surreal and the anticipation of how the response will be like makes it worth one’s while. Furthermore, I sometimes spray his favourite cologne on it and I literally kiss it.
“Seeing his handwriting brightens my day and to us, letters are like Bey to Jigga. We are inseparable. Letters bring in a sensation that cannot be replicated,” chuckled Juliet when relating her reasons for writing love letters.
Letters are not a feminine thing. Simon Sibanda was glad to engage with us on this matter because he also once wrote love letters.
His main reason was flexing his poetic side as he was of the mentality that “women are a special species who value what they are told.”
After laughing a bit and clearing his throat, Simon let us in on his world draped with American songs as his point of reference.
“I’m confessing today, where would I have been without all these American artistes and their songs? I need the lyrics for my poetry and sometimes, I would copy their lyrics to charm my girlfriend and trust me, it worked like magic. I didn’t know where to end when I started writing.”
One fan of love letters is Charmaine Dhliwayo. She has a collection of these and believes that they last for a lifetime.
“Letters last forever and all of the ones that I have ever received are kept safe in my room and in a drawer that is designated for them and all other sentimental items. From time to time I will go back to these, read them over, and dote on them.
This feeling is only exacerbated when a loved one tells me that they found a letter that I wrote to them a while ago and have re-read it.
“I cherish every single letter ever written to me.
They are also like a time machine where I can revisit the past and get to remember how things were back in the day.
Umjolo nowadays is quite different from before,” recollected Charmaine.
With these letters, another piece of memorabilia was left behind. A lot of lovebirds that we spoke to exhibited a form of endearment to some things left behind by their loved ones as keepsakes.
A plethora of romantic gifts reminded these lovers of how much they love and cherish each other. Some of them showed us handbags, wristwatches, colognes, earrings, pictures and more.
The detection of a new Covid-19 variant within the region has left a bitter taste on some lovers since their loved ones won’t join them for Christmas and they can only turn to their treasure boxes to re-read their love letters and get to see their souvenirs.
Do you have a copy of a handwritten letter or have you written one yourself?
What sort of keepsake or anything of sentimental value do you have that was given to you by your loved one? What does this culture mean to you?
Let’s interact on my WhatsApp number +26377 7337776 or my email address: [email protected] – @eMKlass_49