Save Dipanpur book shop cafe!
June 20th, 2020 at 9:41 pm
Save Dipanpur book shop cafe!

Nadeem Qadir;

Not all book publishers will take the effort to turn one’s notebook into a book, besides pushing to improve the contents with more information as well as matching photographs,

But Faisal Arefin Dipan, killed brutally by Islamic militants in 2015 in his Aziz Market’s Jagriti Prokashoni office, was a man who had such love for publishing books.

This happened with this author in 2015 and an unknown writer in the Bengali language. The book was selected by different critics as among the best in that year’s Ekushey Boi Mela.

But we lost him, but he returned in spirit when his family set up the Dipanpur Book Shop Cafe, a new concept of some kind, in 2015 in Dhaka’s New Elephant Road.

It became a hub for all ages and his wife Razia Rahman Jolly, also one of the owners of Dipanpur and a doctor by profession, worked hard passionately to make it popular and publishing new books or new editions of old books.

The cafe serving home-made food with tea and coffee or soft drinks made a mark along with racks of books for sale as well as reading in the motley place. A space for children was always lively with books for the young ones with toys to play with, while events like publications were held by moving the racks. What an idea!

But after three months with COVID-19, the cafe faces shutdown unless help comes its way to pay rents and other expenses.

The announcement came of its shutdown in a status given by Razia Rahman Jolly.

“No, I am holding on as visitors to the cafe and my friends have asked me that they are trying to raise funds,” she told this author.

She said “help me save Dipanpur in whatever you can … I have never sought financial help for any reason and thus it is not easy to do so even now, but I am trying.”

She is able to hold on because the landlord has agreed to adjust current rent from her security deposit, but unless funds come it will eventually meet a sad closure.

Razia is also trying to raise money by catering service, but it was not easy to raise some Taka 200,000 monthly to pay for all the costs involved.

COVID-19 has scared away visitors too and it was a now a difficult trap.

Dipan’s wife seeks help from financial institutions by way loans and generous contribution from friends and book lovers.

“If Dipanpur survives, people will be back soon,” said Razia confidently.

Dipanpur Bookshop Cafe is not just another business, it is a hub to give pleasure to book lovers and educate people of all ages.

Thus Razia’s appeal for help to save not only the hub and Dipan’s memory, but it is also a message to the extremists that they cannot kill the spirit of people like Dipan.

It is time to stand by Dipanpur Book Cafe and booklovers can email — [email protected] — to contact Razia for any assistance they might be.

Nadeem Qadir is a senior Bangladeshi journalist and a Dag Hammarskjöld fellow,-