Dhaka,  Sunday
14 April 2024

A revival of book reading movement

Sumon Reza

Published: 03:21, 19 February 2024

Update: 10:21, 19 February 2024

A revival of book reading movement

Photo : Messenger

Sun rays are winking through the leaves of trees, tweeting of birds, fresh breezes are flowing, and people are indulged in gossiping, roaming, and walking in the municipality park of Jashore. Everything is going on as usual but in the middle of the park beside the lake some enthusiastic young are modestly sitting on the green grass. It seems like they are having a serious meeting. Some students are discussing a book serially what they've read throughout the week. Standing in front of all one is discussing and the fellow members are eagerly listening. A book discussion session is going on. Isn't it rare to imagine people reading and discussing books in a park? But an organization named 'Saptahe Ekti Boi Pori' (Read a book in a week) has been arranging such exceptional attempts since its inception. They are reading books, discussing, sharing their opinions, reciting poems so far practicing intellectuality. The scenery is undoubtedly rare but in Jashore such an exemplary and exceptional movement is going on vibrantly.

Reading books is most probably the most ancient habit of human civilization. It's in the vein of civilization too. But nowadays the world is going through a very weird and uncertain situation. People are mostly busy with so many unnecessary things keeping aside the practice of good things. The most alarming news is people are out of books as they love to bind them within four-edged screens which is threatening for the upcoming day.

Thus, the flow of reading books was meeting a cold calmness. But it got a new wave countrywide when Mr. Shahjahan Kabir's reading circle started it's indomitable journey. Starting its journey from the city of Jashore now it's a role model in the state's intellectual practices. It's phenomenal activities have already earned good appreciation and countywide response. They've already achieved an award from District Administration Jashore for their contribution in Education.

All their activities are mostly about the exercise of intellect. Reading books is the main thing which this organization is trying to boost.

Md Shahjahan Kabir is the thinker and also the founder of this organization, and he works as an Assistant Prof. of History at Govt. Michael Madhusudon College, Jashore. He personally and solely is a devoted reader and thinks of spreading his habits to the people, especially to the students. This organization is earnestly working to enlighten society and to provide high values and life-leading lessons through books. Best and meaningful books from both Bangla and World literature have usually been taught here.

Among them are Rabindranath Tagore's Sheser Kabita, Dakghar, Tarashankar Bandopadhyay's Kabi, Manik Bandopadhyay's Putul Nacher Etikotha, Michael Madhusudhan Dutta’s Meghnadbadh Kavya, short stories by Guy de Maupassant and many more. They also read some world-famous books, such as William Shakespeare's Hamlet, Earnest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House, John Steinbeck's The Pearl, Albert Camus's The Outsider, Paulo Coelho’s, The Alchemist, Sophocles's Oedipus the King, Kahlil Gibran’s, The Prophet are notable books they read. Though all books are selective and deeply meaningful.

Every week each member gets book and they have one week to read it thoroughly. Then after one week, they gather together to share their reading experience and explain it fully. Sometimes they invite expert discussants who used to elaborate on the themes and lessons vividly and answer the questions of the learners. Besides that, self-poem recitation, and songs are a regular part of it. In the middle, they have light snacks. So it becomes a literary haunt than a formal reading.

The members of the organisation went to the birthplace of the great epic poet Michael Madhusudan Dutta in Sagardari, Keshabpur where they read 'Meghnadbadh Kavya' in prose sitting in front of the poet's homeyard. Occasionally some members recited poems of Madhusudan Dutta too. It's a great tribute to the Poet by the organization. And they used to organize such events occasionally to pay tribute.

Besides all these now the organization has expanded its working arena. It has several Co-organizations now. Among these AddhyanShava (the first and only children's reading circle in Bangladesh) is a reading circle of school-going students of Jashore Collectorate School run by Jashore District Administration, conducted by Saptahe Ekti Boi Pori.

Boier Bondhu (Friend of Books) is another co-organisation that already attracted mass attention. Through Sanskritik Granthagar (Cultural Library) they lend books to the readers for free. Even they reach the demanded books to the readers' homes through their volunteers.

Protibesh Addhyan (Natural Studies) is a contextual study that is conducted in the place and time relevant with the book. That is, the place is selected keeping in harmony with the contents of the book read. For example, Rabindranath Tagore's Sheser Kabita was read at the poet's father-in-law's house at South Dihi (Dakkhindihi) in Khulna, Raktakarabi was discussed at the premise of Rabindra Kuthibari at Kushtia, the book Lalon by Subir Chakraborty was discussed at the Lalon Complex at the near graveyard of Lalon at Kushtia. They read Parasyaprativa by Mohamad Borkotullah in Godkhali in the midst of flowers.

Ucchatara AddhyanShava (Higher Studies Centre) is another activity of Saptahe Ekti Boi Pori. It is a platform for open discussion with advanced thinking. They discuss high standards of knowledge, philosophy, science, history, and higher theories here. They organize seminars, and symposiums and celebrate various literally occasions like Rabindra-Nazrul Jayanti.

Recently they inaugurated a new reading circle called English Reading Circle where the readers read English texts and discuss them in English. It's a platform where they can be oriented with the world literature closely.

It's a non-profit organization where the members don't need to give any money. Shahjahan Kabir bears all costs by himself. He says, “I love reading and as I was a member of BishwoSahitta Kendra (World Literature Centre) under Abdullah Abu Sayeed Sir's mentorship I learned a lot which after being a teacher I also wanted to teach my students- so from there I've started this organization.” He also said “yes, it's a tough job for me to run it with rhythm as it costs much but still I'm running it as it is in my heart.” He adores it and dreams of injecting higher values and advanced taste, good thinking, morality, civic ideology, and wants to see a knowledge-based society.

A former chief coordinator and a regular reader of this organisation Md Kamruzzaman said “We were eagerly searching for a platform like Saptahe Ekti Boi Pori. It's undoubtedly a remarkable platform. For intellectual enrichment and skills development, this is an ideal place. I have learned a lot of things from here which would not be possible if I hadn't joined here.”

All should come forward like Mr. Kabir from everyone's place to build a stable and intellectually advanced nation. What Mr Kabir is doing far away from the mainstream is remarkable. It might be a lesson to others in the respective field. The revival of reading books habit should be continued more to build an enlightened, prosperous, and smart Bangladesh.