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By Maliha Bassam

February's a bittersweet month for us Bangalees. While there's the whole Valentine's Day thing around the 14th and the advent of spring right before that, the third week sets off with a different tone; more sombre and with a hint of restrained grief as we observe the National Mourning Day on February 21st. But despite the faint element of heartache in the air, February's the month of this nation's pride, as every year, this month celebrates one of the greatest aspects of our unique country: our literature.

The Ekushey Boi Mela is now as much a part of our culture as the reason why this month long event is held: to pay our tribute to the martyrs who gave up their lives to preserve our lyrical tongue and to the indomitable spirit of this country that may not be always there when we're fighting amongst ourselves, but that shows up right on time when someone outside our inner circle dares to threaten what's our very own.

On the Friday afternoon that I finally made it to the Boi Mela, I was pleased to see the composition of the crowd_ a lot of literature enthusiasts included the young generation, from the age of twelve till the early twenties. Good vibes of sharing the same passion for our rich Bengali literature radiated from eager readers who strolled around the stalls, checking out the works of various authors.

Amongst the many stalls, Anyaprokash, a leading publisher had a high number of new books launched at this year's Boi Mela. New novels included Humayun Ahmed's "Lilaboti", Syed Shamsul Haq's "Ure Jai Maloti Pori", Rabeya Khatun's "Shonkho Shokal Prokriti", Selina Hossain's "Morger Neel Pakhi" and "Konar Onishchit Jatra" by Sirajul Islam Chowdhury. Noted author, Muhammad Zafar Iqbal's collection "Uponnash Shomogro I" has also been published by Anyaprokash. Other novels included Imdadul Haq Milon's "Tumiy", "Eka" and "Odbhut Ek Loker Shonge", Nasreen Jahan's "Samanta", Rejanur Rahman's "Dehokabbo", popular novelist, Pranab Bhatta's "Chadmukh Meye" and "Kajol Kalo Chhokh", Sumanta Aslam's "Ekdin Jochhonabhanga Raate", Arif Moinuddin's "Nibhrite Niloye" and Anwara Syed Haq's "Karnishe Jhulonto Golap".

War literature included Nurul Hossain Khan's "Bangla Hotat Onek Durey" and Rashid Haider's "Muktijuddher Nirbachito Golpo". Zakaria Shopon's science fiction "Neel Mosha" and couple of other poem collections by noted poets like Shamsur Rahman, Mohadeb Shaha, Nirmolendu Goon resided among the newly published list of books.

With all the speculation on the death of writer Humayun Azad last year, this year's Boi Mela had volumes devoted to him. Under Balaka publishing house, "Humyun Azad er Shesh Shakkhatkar o Onnanno" written by Jamal Uddin and edited by Sharifa Bulbul was one such book. Novels from this publisher included "Ekdin Ebong Onekgulo Din" by Begum Mushtari Shafi, "Neeltoya Jonaki" and "Goldfish o Ekti Projapoti" by Chandan Chowdhury, Mahbub Azad's "Joyonti Jokhon Muktijoddhar Bondhu". Rahman Henry's poetry in "Khunjhora Nodi" and Dulal Abu Bakar's "A Cry From the Ruins" featured under their new books of poems.

Pearl Publications brought to the fair books with names that aroused the readers' interest. Muhammad Zafar Iqbal's "Ami Topu" for the younger readers, Anisul Haq's "Ekannoborti", Sumanta Aslam's "Tomai Ami Dekhechhilam Boley", Mostafa Mamun's "Vice Principal Sir", Zillur Rahman's "Paasher Barir Meyeti" and "Shopner Neel Rong", Aranya Anwar's "Keo Ekjon Prolap Bokhchhe", Tonmoy Matin's "Keo Kachher Noy", Dhrubo Esh's "Taan", Hasan Imam Khondokar's "Varsity-r Corridor-e" were to name a few.

Maola Brothers, another big publishing house had Mustafa Mazid's "Rupkothar Nayok" and "Jibon Theke" for children, a couple of translated works of Hemingway, Jack London, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, poetry collections of Rudro Muhammad Shahidullah, Selina Hossain's "Diner Raashite Ashchorjo Gitthu", Shawkat Ali's "Sthayi Thikhana", Masuda Bhatti's "Nodi Ekhono Neel" among its many new publications this year.

Ankur Prakashani, a well-known publisher, launched Mini Shamsun Nahar's book of poems, "Jodi Bhalobasha Naii Thake", J. K. Rowling's "Harry Potter and the Prison Of Azkaban", translated by Muniruzzaman, Akimun Rahman's "Jiboner Roudre Urechhilo Koyekti Dhulikona" and "Paashe Shudhu Chhaya Chhilo", Purobi Boshu's "Jochhona Koreche Aari", Milan Farabi's "Jolmeyeti Bollo, Shomudre Jai", Majul Hasan's "Chiler Danai Ektu Jirou".

Ekushey Bangla Prokhashona published Syed Rokon Uddin's "Angti", Jajabor Piyal's "Pothe Jete Jete" and "Ridoyer Deyal", Rafiqul Haq's collection for children.

Mizan Publishers brought out a number of books discussing politics; both past and present and the following novels: "Jonaki Joley" by Kazi Siraj, Imdadul Haq Milon's "Meyetir Kono Oporadh Chhilo Na" and "Fuler Bagane Shaap" among others.

For lovers of poetry, this year's Boi Mela also brought out some great works from poets, both renowned and new. Under Shoily Publishers came out Farida Farhad's "Nodi O Nari, Nor o Bon", Pijush Jishu's "Tomar Nibeete Onno Keo". Rhythm Prokashona Shongstha also brought out poet Syed Shawkat Ali's "Chokhher Joley" and "Nikhoj Mourir Khoje".

Another publishing house, Shuborno produced Borhan Uddin Khan Jahangir's "Ashbabhin Ghor".

The aforementioned publishers and books were only a few among the hundreds that played very important roles in the Boi Mela. Drawing a huge crowd like every year, this year's especially tight security may have been caused some hassle for visitors_ as queues extended from the main entrance till as far as Shahbagh.

However, in the end, the experience of it was worth it as once again, the month long fair served as a platform upholding and highlighting the works of our talented literary circle.

Photo: SK. Enamul Haq


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