Newspapers at the Breakfast Table | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 17, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 17, 2018


Newspapers at the Breakfast Table

With the gathering helpless compulsive rage

Of an addict unable to give up

Habits that turn cannibalistic,

I wonder who first invented this ghoulish ritual of reading

Newspapers while eating breakfast,

This potent potpourri of porridge and pain.


I delicately butter my high fibre multi-grain toast

As I gaze at the smashed body of a young child,

His blood and flesh smeared across the field

Like the bright red strawberry jam

I enjoy eating every day—

A single snippet of the daily dose of horror

Passed on as sacred beacons from bright young brains

Selecting the latest sensational scoops,

Carefully processed and prepared to appeal

To consumers of all appetites

And dutifully delivered to my doorsteps

By energetic muscles eager to make a fresh start

To a new day,

But its modern day twin,

Spawned by the wonders of technology

Serves up even more varied fare:

The newsfeed with its endless vampire offerings

Of blood and gore—burning and mutilation and ethnic cleansing

And lovely mouthwatering pictures of cakes and steaks and sushi

And bland tasteless selfies,

All washed down with a nice hot cup of cappuccino.

How skillfully I've learnt the art of escape—

Carefully compartmentalizing the personal from the public;

After such knowledge what forgiveness?


One has to cauterize the neurons that send messages

To the nerve centre of the brain,

Or, be swallowed whole

By the predatory politics of news production,

But a part of mind wryly comments

That mass repetitions of such daily rituals

Are a dark indelible ink stain

On the black and white pages of history.


Batool Sarwar is Associate Professor, Department of English, University of Dhaka.

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