A thought had lingered on my mind about sending one of my latest articles to a local newspaper. This was nothing new. All such thoughts have the same and never altering source of origin--my desire to make a living by writing. Living by pen. Grand as it sounds, it has many pitfalls and the main one of which I realized lately, through this experience.
On a particularly lazy Thursday noon, a well dressed and stout individual marched through the staffroom into the Dean’s office. It was lunch time, and I went to wash my hands as I do not use a fork or knife, like many of my brothers and sisters in many other parts of the world. The wash room was adjacent to the Dean’s office. “He is the English Teacher.” The Dean called me and introduced me to the well dressed man.
Slowly the smoke of ignorance lifted from my eyes, as I learned that the well-dressed man was the marketing executive of a prominent newspaper. He described their latest offer, for students and teachers. It was a catch! He said. I said, “Yes. Would you get the paper to my home?”
He said, “No, we do not have agents as of now, in Chalode.” Chalode is the America in Kannur--only a few believes in reading. Newspaper or books, opportunities to read or even a space to sit and read are scarce and almost null in Chalode.
I agreed. “At least, I could get the paper from the college, right?”
He said, “Yes, sir.”
He was very polite, and friendly.
I felt elated and exalted, at the catch. “Rs: 700 he said, for one year subscription. It’s our new offer.”
“Do you want the money right now?” I asked.
“Yes,” He said.
I scrambled whatever penny I had left in my holed wallet and thought of applying to the bankruptcy programme with the government. The money I had was not even enough for buying a newspaper, for one year. I felt obliged to take a quick loan of Rs: 700 from one of the senior teachers, who was kind enough to give me a thousand. They say in puranas, the great Indian epics, that if your time is down, you will cut the very branch you took for your seat.
Whatever! I knew I wasn’t thinking when I made that ‘deal’ with the field executive. Or did I? I could not get Saturday or Sunday papers as on both these days I would be having no classes at the college. This realization came gradually that every Monday I had to pick up the paper from the previous Sunday and Saturday. What good is that offer for?
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I also realize that this experience is not a stand-alone. I had a series of similar experiences. In the past, when I was embarking on a serious attempt to get some of my works published with newspapers, I always turned to buying them. It is true and a good choice to acquaint oneself with the language style and vocabulary of a specific publication before submitting your work there. This increases the chance of getting picked up by the editors. Here, though, I feel subscribing to newspapers has gone a step farther, in becoming a pathological giving up of matured intellect.
It seems to me that instead of the concept, “publishing an article” with a newspaper, my mind has registered “subscribing and reading” a newspaper. Alarming as it is, I must also warn you that any individual could be prone to such pathological states of abandonment of the intellect. In such a situation, the case calls for keeping our antennae open to well-dressed, excessively polite marketing executives.
This article is intended to be a harmless, humorous piece. If it gives you any resentment or anger at the writer, it may be entirely due to his lack of dexterity.