May 4, 2015 by scratchtype1
Today the mailbox held a surprise. Perhaps it shouldn’t have been a surprise, but both the letter writer and I had come to believe that perhaps it had been lost, somewhere in the vast distance that spans from here to Brazil. Perhaps we had been too optimistic — the letter I had sent had taken 19 days to traverse that distance, so we both reasoned that it should take a similar amount of time in the other direction.
But day 19 passed 2 weeks ago. And late last week we had an email conversation titled, “Letero malfruas” or “A letter is late” where we both began to feel that somehow the letter had disappeared, maybe between some cracks in floorboards, maybe behind a shelf, or maybe a monstrous mail sorting machine had grown teeth and consumed its flesh and bones, its words and ink, its life.
So it was a great surprise when I found a white envelope in the box, with my name and address handwritten upon it. There were 4 Brazilian stamps in the upper right corner, and 2 postage marks. One postage mark is unreadable over the stamps, the other is farther down the envelope and has “01 ABR 2015” Portuguese, April 1, 2015.
It seems amazing. Late in the 19th century, LL Zamenhoff had an idea, to create an international auxiliary language, one that would be easier to learn and use. A language that would create a more neutral meeting ground between speakers of differing native languages. It’s a lot of work to learn another language beyond one’s native tongue. Most languages are filled with irregularities and idioms. It’s really something of a terrible thing that many native English speakers of today think it’s unimportant to learn other languages because, for the most part, the non-English speaking world teaches English to its citizens so as to do business and politics.
But that seems almost inconsequential to me at a personal level right now. Right now, I’m amazed at how beside my keyboard is a beautifully written letter in Esperanto, one which expresses kind thoughts and feelings and friendship. A friendship I would have never developed without the tool of Esperanto. With Esperanto, the letter writer and me soon found that we could talk about anything. Sometimes I had to go searching for words, but over time my Esperanto vocabulary has grown and I’ve also grown more comfortable with how Esperanto can use word-building to help bridge gaps when you can’t find a word in a dictionary.
There is still war in the world. There is still too much hunger and poverty, there is still too much that is awful. But at least this evening, I smile some when I lift the letter up in my hands and read the words written by hands on the other side of the world. I don’t believe in magic, but this seems almost magical, all the events that had to take place to create that letter and transport it across the world.