Saying the Unsaid – Rashmi Nambiar

Swapna Narayanan

There are many a times in life when you want to say so many things. Yet, you are unable to. The mind races, the heart screams, the words form, but the voice does not support. Speech betrays. All the words die, deep within. And never tumble out.

We want to say those things, but we don’t. Reasons are many a galore. Fear of being ridiculed, or guffawed at, or even bracketed as emotional. Or a simple lack of courage and, at times, self deprecation.

And one is ultimately left with some unsaid feelings, thoughts, emotions, opinions, views – all stuffed within and layered up.

Today, I want you to meet a woman who could sense all of this, and found a solution for us. Understanding the urge to say, realising the need for a closure, giving a vent for our emotions, and effectively using the latest technology of audio stories, Rashmi Nambiar and her team recently launched a Youtube channel – Unposted Letters – Ankahi Baaton ka Pata.

I caught up with Rashmi on her new endeavour. Here are some snippets from our conversation.

Swapna: When I first heard of Unposted Letters, the concept immediately hit home. All of us carry within us a plethora of unsaid feelings, thoughts, emotions, views. And here you are giving us a portal to share those out to the world. Tell us more about what is Unposted Letters? How did it come to be? 20200526_205906

Rashmi: For me, letters have always been like monologues which have the seed of a dialogue buried within. People in my age group would remember writing letters home, or writing and receiving emotions, smiles, tears and anger enclosed in envelopes. When we wrote letters, we said things in a much better way, probably because words could be chosen after deliberation or emotions were checked time and again before putting down in words. These letters were therapeutic in an age when psychology was in its nascent stage in India.

Unposted Letters started while  I was in Mumbai on a project. And, as it always happens when we are with friends, we can talk on anything and that day, the conversation meandered to letters (probably because there was a rusty letter box in our line of sight) and in this conversation it dawned that in this age of WhatsApp and emails, we have lost the personal and therapeutic effect of receiving and writing letters. We all have emotions and things we wish we could have said but somehow didn’t, and I thought that let us mix the best of both worlds and bring letters to the digital platform. This casual discussion over cups of masala chai, laid the foundation of this platform which is fuelled by our passion. We write after we are done with our corporate life, we edit after our film edits are done, we record at ungodly hours because we can’t sleep when a story is brewing inside.

This passion, love and romance of age bygone is what is fuelling the Unposted Letters. We are growing because I feel people are connecting with this and walking down the path of nostalgia.

Swapna: Why audio stories format? Why not a book? What appealed you to choose audio as a medium?

Rashmi: First of all, audio as a medium is gaining popularity globally. That may be because our lives have become too fast or we are too engrossed in the rat race that finding an hour or two to savour a book, relish the feel of its pages, bathing in the smell of a new book, is becoming increasingly difficult. Audio book is the next best alternative. We are getting good with multitasking so as we listen to the stories we are free to engage in some mundane activity. In this age of convenience, I guess literature or creative writing has to adapt this or it would perish.

Secondly, I personally have a weakness for audio medium as I have been writing for this format for more than eight years now. Starting with radio, I have been attached with this new kid in the block for long now. I feel this medium connects more easily with the audience because when narrated, it comes to life. India after all has a long tradition of Kissagoi or Dadi Nani ki Kahaniyaan. Hence audio was the de facto choice for me.

Swapna: How do you develop the content for this? Do you have a team who builds these? Are you open for your listeners to share their stories?

Rashmi: We are a group of writers and editors who came together because of our mutual love for this format. We do not have a management team per se, because we all are equally the student and the teacher here. It would be fair to say that this platform of Unposted Letters is the most socialist thing we will see because everyone has an equal say. We write letters that we want to be written and then we read it in the gathering of our peers, where the criticism is unapologetic and praises are far in between. But still, the spirit is preserved and the criticism itself nudges the writer in the right direction.

We have in fact opened our door to each and every one who wants to write a letter and say a story. There is a Listeners Section wherein we would get these new writers to read their story. We have grandiose plans, hopefully we shall execute them as well.

But I must reiterate the kind of love and support Unposted Letters got. People from all walks have reached us with word or encouragement, and gentle criticism as well. So if any of your readers would like to be a part of this journey, I request them to send their writings to us. Come, let’s bring back letters, let’s relive the nostalgia.

Swapna: I first heard you in a story, Dooriyaan, that you wrote for Neelesh Misra’s radio show – Yaadon ka Idiot Box. From an HR professional to a voice artist, you have had a journey that seems to have been fuelled by your quest for following your heart. Tell us more.

Rashmi: I always believe that human life is like a flowing river. Some of us erode the mountains and make our way and some meander in the direction life wants to take. The first group depicts the resilience of human spirit and the later is the bohemian part.

I fall in the second group.Screenshot 2020-06-27 at 9.15.02 PM

I have never consciously  planned my journey or chalked my path. If I had done that, my resume would not have had an HR role, an entrepreneurship stint, a story writer, and a teacher in it. Life took me to the corporate world, and then to the cut throat vertical of recruiting, where I did well because of my people skills. Later, I started my own company and did well till boredom struck. Eventually I found my calling through this audio platform of Yaadon ka Idiot Box. From radio, I went on to Storytel and wrote two audio novels, and got my grounding in the audio industry.

And then life had another surprise.

Last year I did a stint with Star India as a faculty in their resident writers program. I had to take that in Mumbai for a period of six months which I gladly did. As I honestly believe that I must give back what I have learnt. Teaching here gave me that chance. I prefer to call it grooming which is something I have always enjoyed and had a beautiful experience in this stint.

*All images used in this article are either Eyra’s own design, used with permission of the interviewee or widely and freely available on the internet.*

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