Everyone calls him 'Babu Member', though his actual name is Baharul Islam. This man in his 50s is a member of ward no.8 of Dhalagram union in Bagherpara upazila of Jashore. He is a tea seller. For six years, he has a tea stall where people come to him with their complaints and to talk to him, while he makes and serves tea. He also carries out his official duties there.
Baharul has no helper at his tea stall. He makes the tea and serves it himself. He sells biscuits, bananas, bread and paan-supari (betel leaf and betel nut) at his shop, but doesn't sell bidi or cigarettes. He doesn't always take money from his customers.
This correspondent talked to him at his shop on 9 July. He was greeting the villagers who came for a visit or who were passing by. He was signing documents too.
Baharul was elected as a UP member in 1997 and 2003 too. As a good football player and an amiable personality, he earned popularity among the people.
Every day he opens his stall early in the morning. In the afternoon he goes home for lunch and then remains at the stall till 10:00pm. Occasionally, he has to join union parishad meetings. The office is just 100 yards from his stall, making it easy to attend.
Each month, Baharul earns around Tk 15,000 from the stall. As a UP member he receives a remuneration of Tk 4,400 from the government and Tk 3,600 from the union parishad.
Baharul comes from Bollamukh village of Bagherpara. He is the fifth among 11 siblings. After passing his Higher Secondary School certificate examination in 1986 he got admitted in Bagherpara college but could not continue his studies for poverty. Later he got a job in a private firm in the capital. After six years, he returned to his village.
"My wife and son weren't happy at first about my selling tea, but I tried to explain things to them," he said. "They are no longer unhappy about this."
The people have chosen Baharul despite him being a tea seller and he is always available to them at the stall. "I love the people of my ward the way I love my family. Their love is also the source of my honour" he said. “I’m selling tea which is as prestigious as the love of the people to me. It's the source of my living."
"Babu member is an honest person. Such a person is uncommon nowadays. He happily takes responsibility of the village and the people love him dearly," chairman of the Dhalagram union parishad, Subhash Devnath, said.