The daily as article of faith

Jagdish Chander

It had been raining outside and I felt cosy, wrapped in a blanket on the bed. The morning alarm had alerted me half an hour back, but the mind seemed rebellious. I could hear the occasional thundering of the clouds and the streak of lightning through the thin curtains on the window.

However, the temptation of reading the morning newspaper could not be resisted any longer and I opened the door half-heartedly, not sure of the arrival of the newspaper at the doorstep. I felt the chill of the weather outside as wet, icy winds overpowered me to enter the room through a half-open door. Hurriedly, I started looking around to get hold of the newspaper, but couldn’t see anywhere. Perhaps due to the incessant rain and unexpected chill, the hawker had not been able to deliver the paper as yet.

I closed the door and went to the kitchen for sips of hot water. After a few moments, feeling restless without the newspaper, I opened the door again to start the search afresh. Now, I ventured a little outside and felt happy to see the wrap of the newspaper lying at one of the steps. I rushed to pick the bundle and returned to my room with a sense of strange gratification.

Before I started unfolding the paper, my thoughts went to that skinny boy who had delivered the paper in spite of the unfavourable morning weather. I was drawn to a series of thoughts — what does a newspaper cost, only Rs 4-5? But the delivery is regular in spite of the vagaries of weather. And what a paper! It encompasses the whole world, throwing up so many options of reading... a complete package of reading material… but all this finally at what cost?

During college days, being a student of economics, we were taught the theory of consumer surplus. To make it clear, the professor used to give an example of a match box; in the sense that it cost only a few paise, but its utility was far more valuable and one was ready to buy it even at any price. Similar was the case of the newspapers, another excellent example of utility under the present-day relevance of consumer surplus.

My thoughts again go to that delivery boy who visits in the first week of every month to collect the payment of the previous month’s bill. Standing silently, with his head down, waiting patiently for the response from the inmates of the house, he rarely gets that meagre payment during his first visit. But without grumbling or with grudges, he visits again and again till the payment is received. But to me, his visit is very important. Upon hearing the doorbell, I rush to make the payment without asking for the bill. Once, I had deliberately paid him more than the actual bill in consideration of the tip. But to my surprise, he adjusted that extra amount in the next bill. 

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