At 76, city’s oldest newspaper hawker soldiers on
News of the world at a Motphran corner
He sits at the corner of Motphran point, leading to Iewduh, almost as if he does not want to be noticed.
Customers come and go picking up their favourite newspapers and periodicals from his makeshift outlet as he does not own a shop.
When he is tired of sitting in one place, he takes a break talking to the visitors around with a smile.
Devin Kharsyntiew, 76, is the oldest newspaper hawker who continues to sell newspapers and periodicals defying his age.
He leaves home at Mawlai Mali-3 at 4 am and sometimes at 5 am and after the day’s transactions, returns home from Motphran at 5 pm.
Kharsyntiew, fondly called Bah Rit, said since 1955, as a boy, he started selling The Shillong Times and Implanter besides the Khasi newspapers of those days, Pyrta u Riewlum, Peitngor and Nongsain Hima.
Unlike Peitngor and Nongsain Hima, Implanter and Pyrta u Riewlum are no more in circulation.
He used to get 2 paise as commission for selling The Shillong Times and other papers of those times.
According to Kharsyntiew, some Britishers were also his customers.
He recollected that Amrita Bazar Patrika, one of the oldest dailies, used to be available in Shillong and there were many takers. The newspaper, however, is no longer in circulation.
Kharsyntiew, who solely depends on the sale of newspapers to sustain his family, has three sons and four daughters. His wife is a homemaker.
Sometimes, his second son assists him but it is temporary.
He admitted that sales were less in the past than now.
Motphran of yore
He narrated the features of Motphran point of the 1950s and 70s. “There was not much crowd unlike now and there was a public tap for the use of the people and there were not many buildings”, he said.
Kharsyntiew recollected that he had once had a glance of Jawaharlal Nehru when he passed through Motphran.