The moment I put the tea tray on the bedside stool, my husband asked for the morning newspaper. "It hasn't come today," I replied. "Remember it was a national holiday yesterday?"
"Oh, no!" he said, disappointed. "At least we will be spared the news of more rapes and missing airplanes for a day," I quipped. Our daughter, witness to this conversation, butts in: "That's not fair, mom, there is more to a newspaper than gory, grim news. You forget the (HT) City magazine section, with juicy gossip on page-3 personalities, besides features on fashion and beauty that, you know, we both enjoy reading."
I agree with her, there is so more to a newspaper than just news. No wonder it has become almost an addiction. There is always a scramble for the magazine sections in our house, on weekends particularly. The main book is also in demand. My husband makes a beeline for the business page and I turn to the Comment page quickly. Besides reading the editorial, I hope to see my contribution to 'Spice of Life' published that day. If it is, my joy knows no bounds and I make everyone I know read that article. After all, it is fame for one day.
My chain of thought is broken as I see that the maid has almost finished sweeping the floor. She tears a sheet of old newspaper carelessly and piles up the dirt on the pretty model's face. Then she crumples it into a ball resembling the rich politician's paunch in the picture and tosses it into the dustbin. Fame for a day!
There are better ways to put an old newspaper to use, I console myself. It works as makeshift plates at picnics and many homes have the sheets lining the cupboard shelves neatly. It also comes in handy to spread on the kitchen shelf before rolling the chapattis; but don't blame me if there is a 10-minute interval between making each chapatti, if I get engrossed in reading something I missed earlier on that sheet. The list goes on.
Towards the end of the month, it is time to bid adieu to the heap stacked up in the storeroom. Even when departing, the humble newspaper makes you richer by a few hundred rupees. With a sigh, I turn to the paper bag containing groceries. As I empty the contents on the table, something catches my eye. It's my story published in 'Spice of Life' three months ago. Who said fame for a day? Long live the newspaper.