Aditya Prasad Mallick cannot read, as he is visually impaired. Nevertheless, he makes sure that others don’t miss out on their daily doze of morning newspapers everyday. Twenty-five-year-old Mallick ekes out a living by hawking newspapers to as many as 250 households. He barely entered this trade one year ago, but the number of his clients has been swelling steadily.
Mallick belongs to a Dalit family of Bhamardiapatna village near Kandrapara. While many hawkers commute on cycle in Kendrapara, Mallick reaches out to his clients on foot, carrying a white stick in one hand and newspapers on the other.
What amazes his clients is that he can recognize a newspaper simply by touching the newsprint. He hardly errs in delivering the correct newspapers to the correct addresses.
Mallick said, “I’m quite familiar with all the households within my area of operation. From picking up my daily quota of newspapers from the agents to delivering them, I go about my job without any hassles. Initially, I faced a few problems, but now I can tell you the name of the newspaper simply by touching it. Except during the rains, I don’t encounter any problem in delivering the newspapers.”
Mallick started as a trainee working with Ajaya Sandha, a newspaper agent of Kendrapara, doing the odd jobs of making packets of newspapers and handing them over to the hawkers. Later, he decided to take up the job of a hawker, as it offered more money.
Initially, many readers dissuaded Sandha not to depute a visually impaired person to deliver newspapers, but Mallick personally visited the customers and persuaded them to give him at least one chance.
Mallick has studied till Class-VI at a blind school in Bhubaneswar. He had to leave school midway, as his father was in no position to financially support his education. Apart from the disability pension of Rs 200 that he gets from the state government, Mallick earns nearly Rs 2,000 per month by hawking newspapers.