Beauty Boarding, once a popular rendezvous for poets, politicians and litterateurs at Siris Das lane in old Dhaka, has been losing its appeal as poets or litterateurs no more gather here like the past.
With the presence of poets and litterateurs like Shamsul Haque, Nirmalendu Goon, Shamsur Rahman, Zia Ansari and Sahid Kadri, it was abuzz with the talks on poets, politicians and cultural personalities.
“Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman came here many times and directed leaders who were implicated and wanted in anti-state cases. Even, Indian leader Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose once visited the boarding,” said Samar Saha, the present caretaker-cum-owner of the building.
The founder of the boarding was Prahlad Saha who lived near Beauty Boarding and was killed by the Pakistani army during the country’s liberation war in 1971. But he was not the owner of the building.
Currently, sons of Prahlad Saha - Tarok Saha and Samar Saha - oversee the valued building serving as a motel-cum-restaurant.
“My father, Prohlad Chandra Saha and uncle Nolin Mohon Saha took possession of 11 kathas of land on which it is based from a landlord of old Dhaka named Sudhir Chnadra Das back in 1949. He established Beauty Boarding named after my paternal aunt Beauty Saha. Thus, the name became famous as the building gradually won the hearts of poets, politicians and itterateurs, said Samar Saha.
The boarding has also historical importance as it brings back lots of liberation war memories, being the spot of killings of Hindus by Pakistani soldiers.
“On March 28, 1971, my father along with 16 other people were taken away from the building and killed by the Pakistani army and their Bihari collaborators. We fled to India fearing of death and returned to our birthplace when the liberation war was over, Samar added.
After the liberation war, we returned to Bangladesh and found the building ravaged by war. We the two brothers took the charge of the building as inheritors of my father, he told the daily sun.
As the members of a martyr’s family, let alone aid, we did not even get any recognition from successive governments as we belong to the minority religion, he ventilated his frustration
Now poets and litterateurs hardly visit Beauty Boarding which was once a place to compose literary works and songs. Samar Sen composed many of his songs here and the script of historical masterpiece ‘Mukh O Mukosh’ was also written at this boarding.
Talking to the daily sun, locals said the key reason for losing attraction of the building is old Dhaka itself has lost its focusing mode. Once focus of all classes of people was on old Dhaka that now shifts to posh areas like Gulshan, Banani, Bashudhara.
Now poets and politicians scarcely visit the historical place due to ultra extension of the capital city.
During the Pakistan regime Old Dhaka was key focusing point of East Pakistan. Many famous poets lived in old Dhaka. Even poet Shamsul Haque had a special seat at the boarding where he produced masterpieces like Aronnok, Janok O Kalo Kofin, Simana Chharia, Rokto Golap.
“New generation poets visit the Beauty Boarding twice a month and hold meetings. We also encourage them to visit the place to revive the past delicacies that once we had,” said Samar.
Samar alleged that cases were filed by political stalwarts to grab the historic building that we have been rearing for generations. We need government support to preserve this historical building.
A 60-member trustee board was formed in 1998, headed by Emrul Chowdhury, to retain the glory of the past of this nostalgic place replicating the prior organization, ‘Sudhi Songho’.
From 2000, the trustee board launched an award giving ceremony. So far Shamsul Hque, Belal Chowdhury, Kabi Al Mahmud, Dabdas Chakrobarty, Asad Chowdhury and poet Rafique Azad were awarded by the trustee.
The trustee board arranges reunion every year between the last week of December and third week of January. And thus, they are trying to revive the old practice which in on last legs.