The telegram is dead. But the iconic service’s last rites have not yet been performed.
After a long day of voluntary hard work, cajoling and much perseverance, stamp and rare telegram collector Gaur Chakroborty convinced officials at the Central Telegraph Office in the city to let him send the last telegram in history on July 14.
But even though seven days have passed since then, Gaur’s message is yet to reach its intended recipient in Ariadah, on the city’s northern fringes.
“Going by the pin code, Ariadah falls under Kolkata. It should’ve taken between 24 and 48 hours to reach the recipient. But, my sister, to whom I sent the last telegram, hasn’t received it yet,” Gaur lamented.
When Hindustan Times contacted the CTO, senior officials promised that the telegram would definitely reach the recipient and explained that the unusual delay was because of an acute lack of infrastructure, complicated by the huge rush to send off telegrams on the last day.
After the telegrams were booked, CTO officials took printouts of the messages, sorted them into batches and sent them to the recipients through speed post.
They claimed that, on average, the office had dispatched only about 30 to 40 telegrams a day over the past three to four years.
“But, on the last day, we had to dispatch about 400 telegrams and it took time to sort through them all. Finally, on Friday, we managed to finish posting all the telegrams. It could be that Gaur’s message was in the last lot of the day, in which case it should reach the recipient by Tuesday,” a senior CTO official said.
July 14 was a tough day for Gaur.
He volunteered at the CTO and worked relentlessly from noon till 11pm dispatching hundreds of telegrams in the process.
CTO officials assured him that he would be allowed to send the last telegram in history as a reward for his hard work.
“Actually, I sent three telegrams on the day and two of those reached the recipients within 48 hours. But the last one, which is very special to me, still hasn’t been delivered,” he said.
Gaur sent the telegram to his sister, Sujata Dutta. It read, “This is the last telegram in my life and history also. 14.7.2013.”