I was waiting impatiently for the birthday boy. I am too punctual even for birthday parties. My friends consider this to be my fondness for free lunches. I could not disagree more. Walking through the branded shops, contemplating on the revenue and fate of the sprawling new mall, my gaze caught sight of the white in the red background displaying Archies.
The calm, the sweet chime at the entrances and the neat stacked display of emotions had always attracted me towards a card shop. Cards themselves never fascinated me. Since childhood, I had seen cards as ‘stuff’ handed out during birthdays and anniversaries. Our school even held a card-making competition. With every art and craft competition, it was time to get sick.
The interior of the showroom was similar to the other franchisees I had visited. Wooden boards decked with cards with little plaques over them. The middle row consisting another of those stands and the corners of the rectangular shop adorned by shining glass showcases. My childhood memories came alive as I walked through the aisles. When was the last time I walked through these rows, adoring the neatly displayed cards? The arrangement evoked the last memory I had of walking in Archies. It was with my brother. We were looking for a card on our father’s birthday. It was then when I stumbled upon the Farewell section that I changed my perspective about cards and art. A card depicted a group of penguins waving goodbye to their leader, who with wide moist eyes waves back, floating away into the ocean on another ice block. I still remember delicately holding the card, scanning the picture to secure a place for it in the special album at the back of my head. I had never seen such a simple picture represent such strong emotions. I exclaimed to my brother, “Here “. He too was moved by the picture and explained with great pride, “See Shubhu, do you know who creates these greeting cards. You see it is not easy making them. Archies hires only highly creative and imaginative people of the industry. They brainstorm every day to bring out different cards on the same topic, no two cards being the same.” The image of creative young men and women on circular desks working in teams of four and five, perfecting the exact mix of art and words, floated through my mind. It was my first tryst with these soothing, silent, little works of art around me. Walking out of the shop, I felt I had unlocked another key to understanding the world. I had learnt to appreciate the work of a professional card designer.
From that day onwards cards have carried a special meaning to me. My notion of cards being just another formal routine to wish had been swept away. Admiration for designers and creative artists had taken its place. Today at the card shop I relived that experience with my brother and all those ‘other’ experiences which I had taken for granted while scanning for my friends’ birthdays.
The stream of thoughts abated as I felt the card in my hands. ‘What is so significant about the sensation of touch? Why is a hug more peaceful than words?’ I asked myself. As I write this, I feel cards exemplify the importance of touch. They serve as something in this abstract nothingness of human emotions. They serve as the medium of communicating emotions, a conveyor of assurance that we are not alone. The adorned cardboard is worth a hundred digital template wishes.