I: Arjun’s Father

It was a moral principle to Arjun’s father that no customer should purchase a newspaper his son had already read. And since morals meant nothing without punishments, he deducted 80p from Arjun’s tip whenever the boy as much as skimmed the front page of a daily. The morning before Christmas, Arjun entered the shop through the street door. He ignored his father behind the till and walked straight to the line of publications on the bottom shelf. Stooping slowly at the stacks, he tucked the topmost copies under his arm: one financial report, a couple tabloids, the local news and the international, a literary journal and two fashion magazines. Keeping his head down, he turned to leave, slapping two twenty pound notes on the counter as he walked past. Just out the door he looked over his shoulder at his dad. “I think there’s a bit extra there, mate. Leave it to the boy.”