The unsung hero of Bangladeshi journalism caught between Covid & customers

22 January 2021

UNB, Cumilla :
The reporter gathers and writes about the news. The editor gives it the perfect shape. But it's the vendor who delivers the news to the doorstep of the reader.
While the pandemic has compelled journalists around the world to work from home for months on end, the vendors are facing the heat in the absence of such a facility.
Meet Abdur Rahim, a resident of Chaumahoni village in Muradnagar upazila.
With clockwork precision, this physically challenged man had been distributing newspapers in the upazila for over 14 years before the pandemic forced the government to impose a nationwide lockdown.
More than 10 months on, he's still out of work. The reason: several people had stopped accepting newspapers fearing the coronavirus infection.
"At the crack of dawn, I used to reach the Pannarpolu railway station daily. Once newspapers were unloaded from the morning train, I tied them on my cycle, my trusty companion for nearly one and a half decades, before heading off," Abdur says.
Be it cold or rain, beating all odds, Abdur would ensure that newspapers were delivered at the doorsteps of people daily. "From Bakhrabad Gas Field and Jahapur Zamindar Bari to Alirchar College, Borarchar, and Kalakandi markets, I used to cover 40km daily."
At the end of every month, Abdur would knock on the doors of his customers to collect payment to buy the next month's essentials. "Believe me, in 14 years I did not miss a single day of work. But now I have no work, and that's what I miss," he says.
Indeed, after the coronavirus outbreak, a national lockdown was imposed. And the lockdown hit the newspaper distribution hard. Readers across the country soon stopped buying newspapers fearing the spread of the infection.
"I have always enjoyed and taken pride in my job, delivering news at the doorsteps of readers to make their day complete. Now, I have become news myself. Despite scientists vouching for the sterility of newsprints, readers are still apprehensive," Abdur says.

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