The Mysterious Newspaper Vendor


by NaSa

This is a real story that dates back in the early 1980s. Mrs. Sharma who’s now, in 2015, the Headmistress at the Govt. High School, Neemka, Faridabad, Haryana was a just a temporary recruit at a Govt. Girls Senior Secondary School, NIT Faridabad, Haryana. She was all happy and thankful to God for her new government job. Back then, most of her peers who had scored decently in academics chose government jobs. Nevertheless, government jobs at that time were more readily available if we compare it with the present. Today, more and more youth opt for private sector, multinationals and want to settle abroad; a big reason for it could be the dearth of government jobs. Another reason could be the socio-economic culture that has changed beyond recognition from what it used to be in the 1980s or some years before that.

Also, I see so many similarities among the ladies of Mrs. Sharma’s age, the generation of my mother. I see a striking resemblance in appearance in not only my ‘masi (s)’ and ‘mami (s)’ but my other aunties also, like my mom’s colleagues and other distant relatives. There are similarities in their way of thinking, way of dressing and way of hair styling. These are a lot of simple ladies who, in the name of hair styles, generally make a low bun or a simple braid with centre partition at the front. Also, their choice of ‘bindi’ is staple- plain, medium-sized and maroon in colour. Their footwear would generally be flat, solid-coloured sandals. Either they chose to wear sarees or suits, you’ll find their ‘duppattas’ and ‘pallas’ pleated and attached with a pin to their shoulders.

But despite this simplicity or should I say given this simplicity they looked attractive if not more, not any lesser than contemporary beauties. So, the young and beautiful Mrs. Sharma was an avid reader too. Even if she was not, because of the virtue of her profession, people would think of her as one. Her daily dose of reading would start with the newspaper. She would read the Hindi daily ‘Punjab Kesari.’ Back in the 1980s, Punjab Kesari neither had that reputation nor the standard that it has toppled down to in our generation.

However, she had not subscribed to any evening tabloid. Still, daily some newspaper vendor would throw ‘The Sandya Times’ in her porch.  When it continued for more than a couple days, it raised a concern among her family members as well, specially the men folk of the Sharma household. Her father and brother got worried. I would only say worried and not agitated or restless because Mrs. Sharma’s father was a peace-loving, intellectual soul who had a Gandhian way of living. Had something like this happened in contemporary times, any father would have used abusive words and raised his blood pressure.  But Mrs. Sharma’s father rather asked her brother to stand at the gate in the morning and see who this is who is throwing this tabloid. But even that was of no avail because that vendor would hide somewhere near and wait for Mrs. Sharma’s brother to go inside or get distracted and would then throw the newspaper stealthily. And when this also continued, obviously standing out and waiting for him also proved useless. The inhabitants of the house were worried but had patience and cool to handle the matter. Mrs. Sharma’s father suggested that they should wait for the month to get over because the vendor might himself appear asking for money. So they waited for the whole month. When 31st day also no one came, he father and brother decided to finally get hold of the vendor. Both of them stood at either side of the road and decided to get hold of the vendor as and when he arrived. Finally, the newspaper vendor came and was caught. He was an innocent looking, small boy of 13. He was Mrs. Sharma’s student who partly worked as the newspaper vendor and would feel happy to throw that last, spare copy of the tabloid ‘Saandya Times’ at his teacher’s place.

The boy was scared of facing Mrs. Sharma and got absent from the class the next day. Mrs. Sharma asked his friends to bring him to class. He came scared of scolding. But what he got was a smile and a month’s bill for the ‘The Saandhya Times.’ He got one more thing as well, future subscription of the tabloid till the time he planned to work as a vendor.

  1. March 27, 2016
    • June 14, 2020

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