One of the problems that I face in this lockdown, and I reckon many of our generations do in societies that are not allowing newspapers, is that there is no definite beginning to the day and newspaper junkies, who don't quite get the effect with e papers would know what I mean..
My childhood memory of how my day began was with a loud thud of a bundle of newspapers crashing into our balcony accompanied by a full-throated hail of Ram Ram by Ram Ram.
Ok,, You don't get it.
Ram Ram was the newspaper delivery man in the locality I was born in and spent my childhood. I don't know how he had earned that name but reasoned that it could be because he was a man of a few words and mostly those words were Ram Ram, with a beaming smile. Ram Ram was old, anyone older than my father was obviously an elder and therefore it was mandatory for us to greet him first with a Ram Ram as a mark of respect. To wish back he would often say, "Sita Ram Sita Ram"
As Ram Ram entered shouting Ram Ram in our gully, everything seemed to cheer up... As he passed through, myriad voices- men women and children would shout back Ram Ram whether they could see him or not. Twice a day like clockwork, morning and evening.
Conversations with him were one-sided, an instruction to him would be acknowledged with a Ram Ram, a 'yes' would be with a nod and Ram Ram and a 'no' would be a shake of the head with Ram Ram. And a cheerful smile and a glint in his eyes that proclaimed that he was alive.
Ram Ram was as much part of the landscape as Delhi Milk Scheme outlet, whose buses made an unmistakable noise delivering the crates of bottled milk which could be heard from some distance. Familiar.
And then he stopped coming.
A substitute started delivering our newspaper. Ramram was ill he said. I guess people missed Ram Ram out of habit. Somewhat like an alarm clock around which important events like getting out of bed are planned.
And then we heard a Ram Ram with the thudding of the newspaper bundle again. But this wasn't the voice we were used to. I came out into the balcony and saw that my father was already there calling out a much younger delivery boy.
"' hey, where is Ram Ram and who are you"
" Sir I am Salim.. abba has passed.. he had a heart attack a couple of weeks back during the afternoon Namaaz... I am his son, you can call me Ram Ram too...My aim of hurling newspapers is not bad... abba had trained me well'
A little crowd was already gathering around the star son.
We left the locality in a few months to our new DDA dwelling unit.. of course, the thud persisted but without Ram Ram.
I miss the smell and touch and feel of the newspaper in this infernal COVID lockdown...