As the monthlong Ekushey Boi Mela on the hallowed grounds of Bangla Academy and Suhrawardy Udyan enters its third week, we are left with a mixed feeling. Slowly but surely, we are nearing the end of a month that we all look forward to the rest of the year. But the massive enthusiasm that the fair has been greeted with is something of a revelation, too: that despite all the bad news that keep coming to our shores and the very real threats to our societal values and customs, people still love books. They are coming in droves, dressed in festive attire, browsing around the stalls and leaving the ground with bags full of books. What better way to reaffirm one's faith in the transformative power of books than this? People's enthusiasm has been most aptly captured by an image published by The Daily Star recently, in which a young flower-seller is seen beside a stall decked with beautifully illustrated storybooks. The image strikes one as a potent symbol of a reader in the making. Despite his visible struggle in life which made him sell flowers for a living at such an early age, this boy seemed totally immersed in reading.
Such pictures make us hopeful. The fair will be over in 10 days, but hopefully its impact will last long. Hopefully, as we have more people taking an interest in reading and learning, we will have a nation that we can be truly proud of. The Bangla Academy the organiser of the fair, deserve our thanks for such a well-planned event. Those in charge of providing security also deserve kudos. We hear that another book fair is being held in Chattogram to celebrate the spirit of the Language Movement. The more, the merrier. Together, these events can not only breathe new life into the moribund publishing industry of our country, but also can help us become more enlightened individuals.