The Newspaper Man

Afaan Bilal
2 min readJan 24, 2018

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It was an early morning of a sunny winter day, not quite so long ago, that I saw something so simple, yet so beautiful.

I was walking through a market in Lal Chowk, Srinagar that early morning, waiting for a friend to come by for a meeting we had to attend. Most of the shops and establishments were still closed, very few were open and a few in the process of opening for the day. The atmosphere was fresh and quiet, just an occasional sound of the chirping of birds, rising here and falling there.

As I walked on the empty sidewalk, I saw a shopkeeper opening the locks to the shutter of his shop. An occasional vehicle passed by with a roaring sound that left as fast as it came into the morning silence. I walked slowly, a few steps closer to the shopkeeper who had finished opening one of the locks and was now working on the second. A man passed by, walking slightly faster than me, looking forward purposefully, his eyes fixed on a distant spot past the shopkeeper opening the locks. He carried with him a bunch of newspapers, and I guessed that he must be the local newspaper delivery man. He confirmed my guess a second later by sliding a newspaper from his bunch under the shutter of a shop in one fluid motion suggesting of practiced ease and years of habit. And he did it all without even looking at the shop or its shutter or the gap beneath it. I kept watching him as he did the same a couple more times and suddenly a faint click caught my attention. The shopkeeper had pulled out the second lock as well. As soon as the shopkeeper put his hand on the handle of the shutter to raise it, there appeared another hand on the handle and, in one motion, both the hands pulled and the shutter went up and a newspaper went under the shutter — all in a fraction of a second. One could be forgiven for thinking that the shopkeeper and the newspaper man had rehearsed the move a dozen times before this. Given the ease and perfection, they would probably be right. The shutter was up and the newspaper delivered without uttering a single word — no salutation, no gratitude, just a smile on the shopkeeper’s face.

But the smile — that was priceless!

Before I knew it, the newspaper man had moved on, continuing his route, delivering papers. My eyes followed him, mesmerized at how such simple interactions could evoke such powerful emotions in the uninitiated. Before long, the track ended and a scooter stood by the sidewalk. The newspaper man put the rest of the papers in the basket, drove off and vanished in the bright rays of the early morning sun on that sunny winter day.

Thank you for reading.

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Afaan Bilal

Senior Software Development Engineer @ Centiment. Co-Founder @ Shmooze. CEO @ Alpha Magnus Studios. Civil Engineer from NIT, Srinagar.