About The Writer : –
G. Srinivas Rao, A prominent Figure Of The Group Who Have Done Much For Indian Writing In English, Was Born in A South Indian State Andhra Pradesh In 1928. The Name Of His Birth-Place Was Hanam Konda. From The Very Beginning Of His Career Rao Was Fond Of Writing On Different Articles. Later On He Worked As A Teacher Of English and Economics. He Has Enriched The Indian English With His 150 Articles Written On Different Topics. Most Of His Articles Got Place In World Famous Newspaper And Magazines I.e., ‘Reader’s Digest’, ‘Miami Herald’, ‘Los Angeles times’ And In Many Other Popular Indian Newspapers. The Present Short Story Was First Published In ‘Los Angeles Times’ In 1980 And Again In ‘reader’ s Digest’ In May 1982 Through Which It Achieved Worldwide Popularity.
About The Story :-
The Life Of Man Is Full Of Incidents, Experiences Bitter, Romantic, Pleasant And Unpleasant. The Present Story Is Also An Incident Of the Writer ‘s Life. He Himself Describes This Incident In Very Romantic Manner . It Proves A Parody For The Youths Of The Current Generation For Having Pen Pals As A Need. It Describes The Friendship Of The Writer And His Pen Pal Alice H. Who Is An Old Lady Of 78-Years Of Los Angeles. During His college Days The Writer Found The Address Of His Pen-Friend From A ‘ Bombay Magazine’ And Wrote A Latter To Her On A Pink-Color Writing Pad Which Is The Favorite Color OF The Girls. The Writer Got Satisfaction After Receiving The Answer Of His Pen Pal. A Large Number were Exchanged Between The Two Friends. The Writer Uses A Very Polite Manner And Asks For Her Photograph To Know Her Age But She Very Cleverly Denies To Do So Saying That At Present It Is Impossible Because She Has No Photograph At All. She Tries To Reveal Her Age From The Writers And Succeeded In It. The Secret Of Her Age Is Disclosed By A Friend Of Alice H. In The And Of The Story . She Sends A Big Packet Along With A Photograph Of Alice H. To The Writer That His Pen Pal Was Not The Queen Of His Dreams But Was Old Lady Of 78 Years.
Start Of Story In Pen Pal
How Often Small Beginnings Grow Into Great Experiences ! This Truth Was Revealed To Me In A Lesson Of Life That Took 20 Years to Unfold.
It Began One Morning When I, A 211- year Old College Student , Came Across A Page In A Popular bombay Magazine That Printed Addresses Of Young People From All Over The World Who Sought Pen Pals In India. I Had seen Boys And Girls Of My Own Class Receiving Fat Airmail Envelopes From Unseen Folks. it Was The Fashion Of The Day. Why Shouldn’t I Also Try ?
So I Picked Out The Address Of One Alice H. In Los Angeles And Bought An Expensive Writing Pad. A Girl From My Class Had Once given Me A Clue To A Woman’s Heart When She Confessed That She Loved Reading Letters On Pink Sheets. Yes, I Too, Must Address Alice On A Pink Sheet.
“Dear Pen Pal ,” i began , As Nervous As A Schoolboy Taking His Very First Exam. There Wasn’t Much To Say, And The Pen Moved Very Slowly , When It Did At All. Dropping The Letter Into The Post Box, I Felt As If I Were Facing The Enemy,s Bullet.
The Reply From Far-away California Came Sooner Than I Expected. “I Wonder How My Address Got Into The Pen Pal’s Column In Your Country, More So Because I Haven’t asked For A friend” , Alice Wrote. “But It’ S So Nice Hearing From Somebody Unseen And Unheard Of. Anyway , You Want Me As A Pen Pal-And Here I Am.”
I don’t Know How Many Times I read That short Note. it Had all the music of life , and I felt i Was in Seventh Heaven !
I Was Careful In my Correspondence, and Wrote Nothing That Might Upset an Unknown American Girl. English Came naturally To Alice, Whereas For Me It Was A Foreign Language, Acquired With Great Pain. I Was Very Sentimental, Even Shy , In My Words And Phrases, But Hidden Somewhere In The Corner Of My Heart Was A sense Of Romance That I Dared Not Express. Alice Wrote Long Letter In Her Balanced Longhand, Yet revealed Little Of Herself.
Big Envelopes Containing Books And Magazines, As Well As Small Keepsakes, Came My Way Across Thousands Of Miles. I had No doubt That Alice Was An Affluent American, And That She Was As beautiful As Her Gracious Gifts-And That Our Pen Friendship Was A Success.
However, One Question Kept Hammering At my Brain. It Would Be Impolite To Ask A Girl Her Age, But Where’s the harm if I Asked For Her Picture ? So I Wrote The Request And At Last Came The Reply . Alice Said Simply That She Had No Picture Just Then. But That She Might Send me one Some Day. She Added That “an Average American Girl” Was More Chic than She.
Was This A game Of Hide-and-seek ? Oh, These Feminine Wiles !
Year Rolled By. My Correspondence With Alice Became Less Exciting, more Irregular, but Not Extinct. I Kept sending “get-well” Messages Whenever She Fell Ill, Christmas cards And, in my own Humble Way, Random Gifts. meanwhile, I Became A Man Of The World, Grew Older, Got A Job, A Wife And Children. I Showed Alice,s Letters To My Wife. The Thought Of Meeting Alice Was Always There For Me, And For My Family, too.
Then, One Day I Received A Large Packet That Bore New , Unmistakably Feminine Handwriting. it Came By Airmail From Dear Old America, From The Hometown Of Alice. Who Was This New Pen Friend, I Wondered As I Unwrapped The Package.
It Contained A Few Magazines And A Short Note. ” As A Close Friend Of Alice H. Whom You Knew So Well, I’ m Sorry To Inform You That She Died in A car Accident Last Sunday, While Returning Home From Church With A few Purchases. Being Very Old-She Was 78 Last April-she Couldn’t see The Fast-speeding Car. Alice Would Often Tell Me How Happy She Was Hearing From You. A Long Bird, helping Others Was A Passion To Her, Both Seen And Unseen, Far and Near.”
The Writer Concluded With A request That I Accept The Enclosed Photograph Of Alice, Who Had Wanted It Sent To Me Only After Her Death.
It Is A Face Of Beauty And Compassion; It Is A Face I Would Have Cherished Even When I Was A Shy College Boy And She Already Old.