Letter From A Concerned Reader Columns

Don’t even touch a newspaper, says Mathrubootham

Respected Sir/Madam,

Decades and decades ago when I was a small boy two or three rules were compulsory in our house. Absolutely no compromise. My father and my mother both use to say, nothing doing Mathrubootham, rules means rules.

Rule number one: Absolutely no footwear inside the house. No shoes, no chappal, no sandal, no nothing. Started walking from school and suddenly urination feeling is coming and you are running home? Sorry but you either remove shoes and enter the house or you secretly fertilise jackfruit tree outside. Because of this two benefits are there: first of all I can travel long distance bus and train and all with good control. And second our ancestral jackfruit tree is like Petronas Tower.

Rule number two: Once a week temple visit is must. Sir/ Madam, so many times on Sunday morning I will be getting ready to listen to some radio programme or read latest Alistair MacLean novel when my father will say, “Okay kanna, time to go to temple.”

“What nonsense is this appa? Last week only you said god is everywhere at all times and antaryaami and sarvavyaapi and all. I will pray in the dining room after just one chapter, please cooperate, terrorists are hijacking navy ship.”

Heights of hypocrisy

Unfortunately, this was in 1960s period when it was fully legal to put discipline in children using furniture, branch of jackfruit tree, etcetera. So first of all your father will beat you to go to temple, and then inside the temple he will say, “Bhagawaane, please protect my children from danger.” Hypocrisy, hypocrisy, 100% hypocrisy. Again one benefit was there because of this. I first met future Mrs. Mathrubootham in temple compound only.

Rule number three: Every day, from Monday to Sunday, all children in our house had to read newspaper for minimum 15 minutes. No excuses. Even during exam time we had to read. My father used to say, only if you read newspaper you will improve language, grammar, general knowledge and all. So from my earliest days I developed habit of reading your esteemed newspaper for at least 15 minutes per day.

Whether any benefit is there from this third rule?

Sir/ Madam, I am sorry to say this but this third rule is now one big aajanabahu zero.

Learn Mandarin!

Today, I tell all the children if you want to learn grammar, read grammar book, if you want to get general knowledge, read Manorama Yearbook. If you want to learn English, what nonsense, learn Mandarin! It is future according to Manorama Yearbook. But don’t even touch a newspaper.

From page 1 to page 45 every page of newspaper is tragedy, tragedy, tragedy. America news tragedy. Europe news tragedy. Middle East news tragedy. India news tragedy. Japan news tragedy. Murder, terrorism, earthquake, cruelty. Non-stop. Every day. Plus advertisement.

Sir/ Madam, this morning I was looking at the newspaper and thought whether human beings will also start loving each other also or just everyday murder?

And then I saw this news in your paper. Whether you have seen also? One lady went with family to some hill station. And then while taking selfie she fell off the mountain and died.

Every two or three weeks some news like this will come. Some boy or girl will kill themselves while taking selfie.

Sir/ Madam, enough. I cannot handle this anymore.

I am cancelling rule number three. Instead it is better to spend 15 minutes each day at the temple and pray for mankind.

Yours in exasperation,

J. Mathrubootham


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Printable version | Sep 14, 2021 1:04:28 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/dont-even-touch-a-newspaper/article24231420.ece

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