The Night Shift: Delivering the news
Most people call it a day when night falls, but some start work only when the sun has set. In the second of a three-part series, TNP speaks to those who are hard at work while others sleep
Around 2am at popular supper joint Simpang Bedok, diners with late-night cravings continue to stream in for prata or hot tea.
That's when, just a few steps away, newspaper packer Selvi Mahendran gets down to work.
At her workplace - a corner outside a convenience store - stacks of newspapers - more than 900 copies - await the 37-year-old every morning.
Nearly every day for the past 10 years, Madam Selvi has been working from 2am to 7am, arranging and delivering newspapers.
Madam Selvi, a Singapore permanent resident from India, tells The New Paper on Sunday: "The night air is cool and it's quieter. What's not to like about working at this hour?"
She adds with a laugh: "I feel like I'm doing an important job, without me, people would not even know what is going on."
Together with her 45-year-old husband Karimuthu Mahendran, Madam Selvi manages Karimuthu News Agency, which is responsible for the distribution of newspapers in the Bedok area.
Apart from delivering the papers, they also have to make sure they are packed properly.
She says there are more than 500 homes and shops that rely on them to deliver their news every morning.
TNPS shadowed Madam Selvi for one night to observe how she carries out her job.
All the newspapers have to be delivered by about 7am, so there is no time to waste.
"If we don't make it in time, people will not have their papers to start their day with, and that is not nice for them," says Madam Selvi, her hands moving like clockwork as she packs copies of Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao.
As she assembles the newspapers, Mr Mahendran and a member of their staff load them into a van, which will make its rounds to the residential areas nearby.
Madam Selvi helps to deliver the papers too, wheeling them around on a trolley to closer locations, like the petrol kiosk across the road, a supermarket and some HDB flats.
Is it hard work?
Madam Selvi says: "There is stress, but I feel like working this job keeps me healthy and active."
Besides, she adds, doing physical work is more pleasant at night when the sun is not beating down.
After settling the deliveries, Madam Selvi makes the 10-minute journey back to her home to get her three children, aged 13, nine and seven, ready for school. She fixes breakfast for them and takes the younger ones to school.
It is only at about 8am that Madam Selvi gets to rest, taking a four-hour nap before the children finish school.
Then there is more work.
Throughout the day, she and her husband do administrative work for their news agency.
The delivery schedule for each customer may differ - for example, they could be overseas and want their deliveries to stop for a while. It is Madam Selvi's job to coordinate the customers' orders with the publishers' supplies, as well as collect payment from her customers.
"My schedule for each day is not fixed, some days it can get so busy that I don't even get to sleep much. But it's been this way for so long, we are used to it already," says Madam Selvi.
Since newspapers need to be delivered every day, the pair do not get much time off. In the past 10 years, Madam Selvi says, her family has gone overseas only twice. When either of them is unable to work, they get their relatives to help out.
Says Madam Selvi: "Some people will say that it's a crazy job because of the late hours and no days off."
Then she adds, looking at her husband with a smile: "But it's for the family, and we've been blessed with so much. I am thankful for what we have."