Satchel full of books

What’s the purpose of reading books anyway, unless it is a BCS guide and manages your bread and butter? I think almost everyone, at least once in life, has heard that books out of curriculum spoil you killing your valuable study hours! Today we are going to hear about two initiatives where book is used as a weapon to do the exact opposite, to kill and heal the spoilage, through the narratives of Samia Sultana.


1st anniversary of Mishopa

1st anniversary of Mishopa

Bioer Feriwala (the book hawker)

When first year graduate student Sajal Kumar came to study at University of Dhaka (DU), he didn’t forget about his native village. More specifically, the devastating grasp of satellite television over his village would cause him distress. He could visualise the whole family galloping not so tasteful foreign cultures sitting hypnotised before a TV set. Even grandparents, from who we get first-hand lesson of morality and rituals of tradition, are found sitting before TV with eyes wide open without a blink. If the protectors of rituals are under the spell of destructive mismatched culture, where to go, to find our root then? How would the youngsters be free of the spell of this malicious sorcerer-like technology?

Books might be the idea answer to all the problems. Responding to it, Sajal started buying a few books every month with a view to establishing a library in his village. When he found out that he was not the only one who loves books, an idea crossed his mind. In this age of social media, he used Facebook at its best for his purpose – spreading the light of knowledge. In February 2017, he started posting in various Facebook groups his book list. Boier Feriwala has its own Facebook group now. Anyone can take books from him for one month just by posting a comment on it! No member fee, no charge, just put a comment and take books by meeting him in person. Though the starting was limited only in Dhaka University campus, Boier Feriwala has now come in contact with more than 2000 book-lovers around the country in various campuses. So, don’t get disappointed if you are not form DU campus, anyone is welcome to borrow and donate books.

Starting from 175, the number of books has now surged up to more than 2000, with the help of donations from well-wishers and also from ‘Satyen Bose Pathagar’ of Jagannath Hall of Dhaka University. Study circle has also become a part of its activity.

Asked, if he gets tired of this task, to post on Facebook, keep tracks of books, lend and receive books et cetera all the time,  Sajal says with a smile in the corner of his lip, ‘Yes, I do, at times get irritated and exhausted. But when you put love in what you do, tiredness is converted to happiness at the end of the day.’

Sajal Kumar is now an Honours final year student at the department of Bangla. When he looks back to 2014, the first step into his initiative, he discovers himself without any long-term plan on Boier Feriwala.

But the interest taken in by the people revolving around this approach has enabled him dreaming to be bigger. In this era of career-consciousness, he doesn’t dream for any self-interest or financial benefit. Rather, all he wants is the unity of all book lovers to work for ruling out social degradation.

And about that malicious technology, well, that sorcerer has been used for noble causes too. Recently, Boier Feriwala has launched a YouTube channel sharing book reviews. Technology, social media are not monstrous after all, it’s us who will decide what they will become.


Book reading competition by Boier FeriwalaMishopa (Mia Shovoner Pathshala)

On the eve of 2015, a student of sociology department of University of Dhaka, targeted reading 500 books a year. With much enthusiasm as he was working on his target, he felt a dire necessity for sharing his learning with fellow minds. Every avid reader knows this feeling- when you read a new book and you die inside every second wanting to talk about it. But to his disappointment, he couldn’t find people nearby interested to carry on with such discussion. This poured cold water straight on his excitement. However, he was not the one to give up. In spite of being despaired, he hit upon a plan. He has always believed that the thirst for knowledge in people’s mind hasn’t dried up yet. Then why not lending books to people in person?

The story of Mishopa starts here. What is the story behind this name? Well, the full form is Mia Shovoner Pathshala (Mia Shovon’s study centre). And that enthusiastic book lover namely Mia Shovon is a master’s student now. His certificate name is Sazzadur Rahman by the way.

Why books, not anything else? In reply to this, Mia Shovon mentions about cultural debasement and prejudices prevailing today and he believes only books can create a successive, sound culture. Mishopa works mainly with an aim to create a knowledge-friendly oasis in today’s deserted sterile society. According to his view, only personal knowledge is not enough for cessation of backwardness in us. He says, ‘One culture can progress only when there’s a creation of new dimension by being invested in for gaining, practicing and sharing of knowledge.’

With the tag-line ‘Knowledge-Joy-Truth-Beauty-Love’, Mishopa is spreading interest for extra-curricular studies. As Mia Shovon counts success of the initiative in term of membership, he expresses happiness on fulfilling a target of 1000 members within last year. Mishopa now targets for 5000 members within current year. Several renowned personalities like Abdullah Abu Sayeed, Anisul Haque, Jafarullah Sharafat and some others have already taken membership of the group.

This library has a collection of more than 1700 books. Where do the expenses come from? The fact is, one has to pay a definite amount of fee to take membership before he/she can borrow books. And this fee is used to enrich book collection. So far Mishopa has confined its activity within Dhaka area and nearby campuses by mobile library only. Hopefully it is going to hold study circle in near future.

Capturing the light of knowledge-power in his satchel, Mia Shovon is wandering about day and night from TSC, DU to Bishwa Sahitya Kendra in his relentless journey.

Let the culture of acquisition and sharing of knowledge march ahead!

Samia Sultana Lira is a student of University of Dhaka.




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