The Ekushey Book Fair without Wordsmith
Kazi Falguni Eshita
The OmorEkusheyBoiMela is the national book fair of Bangladesh. It takes place over the whole month of February each year, and is dedicated to the agitators, who died on 21st February, 1952, in a demonstration calling for the establishment of Bengali as one of the state languages of the former united Pakistan.
Muktodhara publishing house started a little sale in front of Bangla academy on the 21st of February 1972, the Shaheed day, or the International Mother Language day. Although Ekushey Book fair started merely as a book fair, it evolved into a national cultural festival of the modern Bengali Nation. In addition to book sales, Bangla Academy organizes literal and cultural events every day. Thousands of people gather every day not only to purchase books but spend time in the company of books and their authors in a patriotic zeal. There is no entry fee. Publishers in Bangladesh take yearlongpreparations to publish a huge number of books during this month. Besides the book stalls, there is NazrulManch, a corner dedicated to poet Kazi Nazrul Islam, a fixed place for cultural meetings. A LekhokKunjo dedicated to writers and a media center for journalists.
“To recollect Humayun Ahmed’s outstanding contribution to Bangla literature, the next Amar Ekushey book fair would be dedicated to the late popular litterateur.” Said Professor E. Ashaduzzaman, chairman of Bangla academy, in a commemoration meeting. (The Daily Star, Friday, July 27th, 2012).
Humayun used his creations as a strong weapon to raise awareness in favor of war crimes trial and anti-liberation forces. Every year a large number of people irrespective of class or religion gather at the Amar Ekushey Book Fair not only to buy books, but also to get a glimpse of their favorite author and if they are lucky enough, to get an autograph scribbled by the author on their favorite book. This year’s book fair would be the first book fair without Humayun Ahmed.
Readers might make a line in front of a selected publishing house’s stall to get a copy of their favorite Himu book, but Humayun will not be sitting in the stall of Annyaprakash or other publishing places he was close to. Readers would definitely miss his warm smile, or an autograph they had craved for all year long.
Literary documents, used materials or other memorial symbols of Humayun Ahmed would be preserved at a corner of the academy’s writer and literature museum.
In Humayun’s works, the issue of humanity has achieved a new dimension, and his contributions in spreading education among the root level readers are invaluable. Bangla Academy will also publish a memorial book in Humayun’s name which will feature ten of his works.
For over three decades, the books of Humayun Ahmed topped sales at the Ekushey Book Fair. The writer has contributed much to the healthier state of the publication industry in Bangladesh. Humayun Ahmed will not come to the Ekushey Book Fair ever again, but his creations will remain to inspire writers of all ages.