Till recently, one could see a frail and feeble Kharsyntiew standing at Motphran near RB stores with a bundle of different vernacular newspapers in his hand and waiting for the time when all his shares are sold off and to return back home with a hope, to get up in the morning and continue doing what he love.
SHILLONG: With the crack of dawn, he hustles through the narrow streets of Shillong. Weary are his shoulders with loads of information on the every changing state of affairs in Meghalaya, yet relentless is his will to convey the message for the past 52 years and more.
Dignity of labour! If there is one person who has struggle his entire life and continue do so with dignity, then he is none other than Devin Kharsyntiew, the oldest and longest living newspapers’ hawker in Meghalaya.
52 years and on, Kharsyntiew is no less than an informant, providing information to the people on a daily basis. Though, he might not be a journalist, but his sincerity towards his job mirrors the inner most desire of Kharsyntiew to contribute towards the good and betterment of the society, in however, little that he can.
He is no reporter, no editor, no columnist and no publisher, but his contribution in the field of journalism in Meghalaya is immense.
Bogged down by poverty, Kharsyntiew was forced to give up education and to start earning for his family. He started selling newspapers and tabloids at a very early age in the year 1964, at Motphran, the nerve centre and the fleet street of Shillong.
“I feel good about my job. It is not only a source of income for me and my family but it is also a source of information. You see before the information is passed to the public, I become the first person to learn about what’s happening in the society,” Kharsyntiew told TNT(The Northeast Today) News.
Carrying 100-150 newspapers in his hands everyday, Kharsyntiew now in his late 60s, continue to serve the society in the best way that he can despite the fact that he no longer need to burden himself with such a big responsibility if he chooses.
“I know I’m old but that wouldn’t stop me from doing what I love. I can say that I’m privileged to be associated with journalism because not only has it helped me get through difficult times, but it has also enriched me with information on various aspects not only daily news. So I feel I wouldn’t have got the chance if I had been in another profession,” the dignified newspapers’ hawker said.
When he first started selling newspaper in 1964, Kharsyntiew used to collect leading newspapers those days—Pyrta Lum, Peitngor, Lyngwiar Dpei, Kyrwoh, Talajur, Sur Shi para besides others. “The income was low but it was sufficient for me to run my family.
During his early years of services, dignity of labour was nothing but a mere decorative word in intellectuals’ dictionary. He has lived through the scornful attitude meted against him for the past many years, yet he didn’t give up, and was infact proud of what he was doing.
“During my early years, I was looked down upon and despised by the general public and I agree in those years, people’s attitude and indifference towards newspaper sellers was very different. But for me, a job is a job, no matter how big or how small it is,” Kharsyntiew said proudly.
For Kharsyntiew, his job was great and noble out of which he was able to raise a family of 8 children and 11 grandchildren, most of whom are educated and doing very well in society. “It has become a habit. I don’t want to give up now just because I can. I have been doing this all my life and I feel dishearten to discontinue doing so,” he maintained.
Kharsyntiew dedication towards journalism in Meghalaya has not been overlooked. His hardwork and contribution was recognised by the Meghalaya Editors’ and Publishers Association (MEPA) and he was awarded by MEPA on 14 May 2016 by Meghalaya Governor V Shanmuganathan, for his immense contribution in the field of journalism in Meghalaya.
Till date, one can see a frail and feeble Kharsyntiew standing at Motphran near RB stores with a bundle of different vernacular newspapers in his hand and waiting for the time when all his shares are sold off and to return back home with a hope, to get up in the morning and continue doing what he love.
Devis with his wife
(By Ibankyntiew Mawrie)