“तार इस मतलब का आया है मुझे भोपाल से
रात भर भैंसे की दुम हिलती रही भूचाल से .........”
This was a frivolous piece of poetry quoted by a very well known Hindi author in one of his books , which shows how sending Taar or telegram was in vogue in matters important and mundane alike some decades back.
From today, i.e. 15th July, 2013 it is good bye to Telegrams , as the Govt . in their wisdom have discontinued this - one time very important , but now rendered obsolete as also commercially nonviable – service thanks to other cheaper and quicker means of instant communication and transmission like mobile phones and internet etc. There is hardly person , who has grown up with me through the fifties , and has not felt the importance of telegrams in day to day life. Little wonder that the last day of this service saw a sizable number of people at many places rushing to the post offices and telegraph offices to send welfare messages to relatives and near and dear ones , not only to avail the service for the last time but also to be able to keep the specimen of a telegram as a memento or an important relic of the past for the posterity. Some people were also seen taking along their kids to show and apprise them of the system of sending telegrams.
Telegram has been rightly called the harbinger of both good and bad news , mostly- I am afraid- bad news . The mere arrival of a messenger or the delivery man would cause goose bumps in everyone in the neighbourhood ; it is another matter that sometimes the telegram carried good news of a birth in the family or in relation , a promotion, an appointment to a service of one of the relatives , and last but not the least safe arrival of a dear one at the destination after a long journey. I have seen people rushing to an English knowing person to read out the telegram when education was not so common.
It is also true that sometimes loud cries and wails were heard when the telegram carried sad and shocking news of an accident or a death . Once I had to rush to the post office to send a congratulatory Greeting message to an acquaintance who was getting married, leaving aside my personal bereavement. Telegram also came handy when due to some unavoidable and compelling reasons, extension of leave was sought by sending a telegram . However one had to keep the receipt safe in token of having sent it – ताकि सनद रहे और बरवक़्त ज़रूरत काम आवे !