Areeza Tamiha got up early yesterday morning.
Excited, the second grader got ready quickly. She wore a black and white dress with Bangla alphabet imprinted on it, which her mother had given her.
Areeza wanted to head out right away. Her mother, Ferdousi Akter, assured her that they would spend the whole day together.
In the morning, the family went to the Central Shaheed Minar to pay their tributes to the language martyrs.
Not just them, yesterday people from all walks of life paid homage to the Language Movement martyrs, who laid down their lives for the recognition of Bangla as a state language on the day in 1952.
Humming “Amar Bhaiyer Raktey Rangano Ekushey February...”, thousands thronged the Shaheed Minar from the early hours.
The Ekushey spirit surrounded the Amar Ekushey Granthamela too. Imbued with it, people started visiting the book fair since morning. Even the tight security and long queues at the venue gates did not dampen their spirits.
The Bangla Academy and Suhrawardy Udyan premises were crowded as people who came to pay respect at Shaheed Minar also dropped by to buy books. The crowd kept on growing larger as the day rolled on. Book sales too shot up yesterday.
Children were seen running around cheerily, requesting their parents to buy books for them while their parents were also busy picking their own favourites.
“I went to the Shaheed Minar first to pay respect…,” said Areeza, whom this correspondent met at the book fair.
Her mother, Ferdousi Akter, said, “My daughter knows the history of the Language Movement. I made sure she knew about the sacrifices the language heroes made.”
She bought books by Muhammed Zafar Iqbal for her. “I always encourage her to read Bangla books,” said the mother.
Yesterday, the book fair was aglow with the Ekushey spirit.
“I bought a science book. In the morning, my family and I also placed a wreath at the Shaheed Minar,” said eighth grader Austin Cornelius of Tejgaon Primary High School. Austin was also holding a national flag in his hand.
The rush of people continued throughout the day.
“Books on the Liberation War and Language Movement are in high demand,” said Tumu at the stall of Shova Prokash. “Parents are also buying 'Chotoder Bhasa Andoloner Itihas' by Samsuzzaman Shams from our stall,” she said.
“Bhasha Andoloner Dolil o Onyanno” by Abul Ahsan Chowdhury and “Muktijuddher Golpo” edited by Muhammad Zillur Rahman were also drawing readers' attention at the stall.
This correspondent also met Cherie Preston, a member of a youth organisation, who came from New Zealand, at the fair.
On this day, people raised their voice for their mother tongue, she said. “Such a spirit teaches us that anything is possible if we stay united.”
Meanwhile, many of the writers were interacting with the readers since the morning.
Mustafa Chowdhury, writer of “Ekattorer Juddho Shishu: Obidito Itihash”, said, “The history and spirit of the Language Movement can inspire all.”
Most of the visitors were seen buying books on the Language Movement and Bangla language yesterday.
“Ekushey February: Sokol Bhasar Kotha” by Muhammod Habibur Rahman, “Bhasa Andolan: Itihas o Uttar Probhab” by Ahmed Rafiq, and “Ekushey February (a collection of stories, poems and songs)” by Hasan Hafizur Rahman were much sought after at Samay Prokashoni.
Booklovers were also thronging the Bangla Academy stall to buy books on the history of Bangla language.
Of them, “Bhasa Andoloner Shaheedra” edited by six editors including its Director General Shamsuzzaman Khan, “Bhasa Andolaner Smriti o Kichu Jiggasha” by Ahmed Rafiq and “Bhasa Andolon o Nari” by Muhammad Humayun Kabir were the popular choice.
Ekushey February is for all as it is also International Mother Language Day, said many of the indigenous writers at the book fair.
Poet Porag Ritchil, a member of the Garo Community, brought out a Bangla translation of Byanjon Mree's poetry collection “Mayur Byanjon”. The book is available at Thakbirim stall in the “Little Mag” corner.
“I have translated the book in Bangla so that everyone can enjoy the poems. Also, we don't want our language to fade away. The country is full of diversity and the readers will be able to appreciate our culture by reading our literature,” said Porag.
A total of 390 books hit the fair yesterday.
DAILY STAR BOOKS
Yesterday, books on the Liberation War were among the most sought after at Daily Star Books.
Tahmima Anam's “A Golden Age” and its translation “Sonajhora Din”, “Kishor Muktijoddha” by Mostafa Hossain, “The Guerrilla” by Shahzaman Mozumder and “Genocide They Wrote” by Inam Ahmed and Shakhawat Liton attracted booklovers of all ages.
“The stall introduces the readers to a good number of informative books related to the Liberation War,” said Tanzam, a government employee.
Syed Abul Maksud's “Bangalee Musolmaner Buddhibrittik Bibhrom o Bishwashinota” will be available at the stall soon, confirmed Emran Mahfuz, coordinator of Daily Star Books.