Mohsin Mollah wakes up at the crack of dawn every day – he has been doing for the last 29 years. Then he goes out, collects the newspapers and delivers these to people’s doorsteps. Rain, storm, waterlogged roads – nothing can stop him from doing his job.
Mohsin said, “I don’t feel good when newspapers don’t come out during Eid or any other vacations.”
People even stopped subscribing newspapers. There were people who rang him up saying that they did not feel well without newspapers, but there were strict instructions from the landlords against taking anything inside the building during the pandemic
He has been delivering newspapers since he was 13 years old. In the last 29 years, he never thought of changing this profession.
Mohsin said, “There are people whom I have been delivering newspapers for the last 22 years. There are also people who wait for me after performing Fajr prayers. When they ask, ‘Mohsin, how are you?’ after the newspapers are handed over to them, I feel good.”
However, like other professions, the Covid-19 pandemic also wrought havoc on Mohsin’s three-decade profession. Many left Dhaka for the village. People even stopped subscribing newspapers. There were people who rang him up saying that they did not feel well without newspapers, but there were strict instructions from the landlords against taking anything inside the building during the pandemic.
Mohsin said he did not face any problem until 26 March, the onset of Covid-19 pandemic. In mid-April it was rumoured that coronavirus spreads through newspapers. Then many people started unsubscribing newspapers. However, some people maintained health safety on their own – asking him to keep newspapers in a bag hung outside the door. Some others used to spray the newspapers with disinfectant. Some of his decade-long customers said they did not need newspapers but asked him to collect money at the end of the month. However, Mohsin did not. He said, “Why should I take money if I don’t give them service?”
Mohsin delivers newspapers in the capital’s Kathalbagan, Dhanmondi, and Hatirpool. When any area was put under lockdown at the peak of pandemic, people were scared of moving outside. Mohsin also remained careful thinking about the safety of his family. He used to wear gloves and masks while going outside and wash his clothes with detergent after coming back home.
Things have returned to normalcy now. Old customers have started subscribing newspapers again. But students who used to live in different dormitories are yet to return to Dhaka. Mohsin is eagerly waiting to see the old faces again.
*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print and online editions, has been rewritten for the English edition.