While I was growing up, the corner shop was a vital part of our life. Every now and then, while in the process of cooking, my mother would need something and I had to run to buy that item. The best part of those shops, for my mother, was the bits of paper which were used to wrap the items. After emptying the contents, my mother would settle down to read whatever was printed on that bit of wrapping paper. Since many shop-keepers used newspapers, the wrapper would invariably contain parts and if lucky, full articles. If I was standing nearby, she would say: “You know these small bits of paper contain the best of reading material and you should never discard those without reading what is on it.” And she would go on reading whatever she could manage to read.
I was never very particular about that exercise until I suddenly noticed that we no longer had such small bits of stories (as I would like to call it) as wrappers. The papers were replaced by glossy plastic sachets and packets which had fine lettering printed on it. Then, I started missing those bits of paper. Sometimes the bits of paper would be answer sheets of students with the comments of teachers. It used to be quite interesting to stumble upon such items unexpectedly.
It so happens that whenever my mother used to get these wrapped papers, she would end up reading some beauty/cookery tips or some yummy recipes. My mother always would say: “I must remember to write this down.” But she will invariably forget and often times when she is preparing a dish, she would suddenly remember about that bit paper and rummage the house to find it. Little did she know that the paper would have been discarded by some smart member of the family who would see it as another waste material fit to be thrown away. But as history often repeats itself, my mother would get another bit of paper like that and would want to remember to write it down but would forget and the cycle goes on.
Last evening, I wanted to dispose something and so I tore a piece of paper. But that piece of paper had some interesting tid-bits of news and I ended up reading that whole piece of paper. And since the date of that particular paper would be somewhere in the past, it also carried some element of recollection of that particular day. While I was reading that piece of paper, I silently lamented the vanishing away of those corner shops and their paper wrappers. Alas! Plastic has stolen the small pleasure of reading unexpected stories and experience. And this is not the only thing that has been usurped by plastic . . .
Reading bits of paper, anyone? I am sure we all love those treats which come our way . . .
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