Kolkata: India is a country of myriad professions. People eke out a living from the unlikeliest of trades that are often fuelled by passion. One such man is Gopeshwar Chakravarty who binds books for a living.
But Chakravarty is no ordinary binder. What makes him different from others in his profession, is that he covers books at the International Kolkata Book Fair, something he has been doing since the annual event first started in 1975.
“I love covering books and have not missed a single Kolkata Book Fair in the last 42 years. People buy books from the stalls and get them covered from me,” says Chakravarty, as his fingers neatly fold a cellophane paper over a Franz Kafka short story collection that a customer has just handed over to him. “It is now my bread and butter,” he says.
The rest of the year, Chakravarty is busy covering and binding books at all top schools and colleges in the city, besides publishers.
The beginning, however, was far from easy. Chakravarty worked as an assistant to a College Street binder. His untimely death led to the closure of the unit and Chakravarty took to the profession independently.
“I approached the Publishers and Booksellers Guild, the organisers of the Kolkata Book Fair, and they were most kind to allot me a space. In fact, I have the liberty to sit anywhere on the fair ground,” the humble 65-year old says with a smile.
District book fairs, however, have never interested him. “I am a Kolkatan by heart and whatever I have got from this trade is enough for me. My earnings are sufficient for a decent living and I am happy with it.”
The man from Birati, in the northern fringes of the city, is an avid reader. “I read late into the night when the rest of my family sleeps.”
Visitors to the Kolkata Book Fair 2018 can find Chakravarty sitting and covering books beside the Bangladesh pavilion.