An exclusive excerpt from Stars from the Borderless Sea by Shalini Mullick (Readomania, February 2022)
The sedan slowed as it weaved through the stream of traffic. After a busy week, Mahima was looking forward to a relaxed day. The merger deal with the Australian delegation had finally come through yesterday. The achievement made the Family Day celebrations scheduled for this evening extra-special. Mahima smiled as she reached for the newspaper Reshma had packed in her jute bag.
Reading the newspaper on the way to work was an old habit. There was a time when each section of the newspaper had had its own relevance. After taking in the news, she would linger on the smattering of advertisements. She would use her red sketch pen to circle the relevant classifieds.
The assurance of health, wealth, or fortune that the weekly horoscope contained seemed to be meant especially for her. But these days, the headlines had already been ‘broken’ by many competing news channels. Live weather updates were available on everyone’s phone. And Zodiac sign-based predictions had been usurped by new entrants to the world of prophecy, like tarot and numerology. Even the editorials were watered-down versions of the incisive commentaries of the olden days that would be intensely discussed in coffee houses amidst acrid fumes of cigarette smoke. The comic strips were the only part of the newspaper that offered any novelty now.
But, bound by habit, she continued her ritual every morning on the way to work. Wasn’t that typical of all our habits? Vestiges of our past, which we are too lazy or too sentimental to change; we kept repeating them until they became a part of us—our routine—and our subconscious, without our knowing why.