Bibliophiles from across the city flocked to the May Day Bookstore in Shadipur to visit their annual book sale organised to mark the occasion of International Workers' Day on Sunday.
The book sale serves as the perfect event to display and sell pre-owned titles at nominal prices as well as fresh titles from several independent publishers available in the store. This three-day-long sale is an attempt to celebrate literature while also drawing attention to the cause of workers' rights.
Years of celebrations
The teams of May Day Bookstore - it was established on May 1 in 2011, and completed 11 years on Sunday - and LeftWord Books (a publishing house that manages the Bookstore) make it a point to celebrate the occasion with utmost enthusiasm and fervour.
Prior to the pandemic, the bookstore would host performances, talks, and a bake sale in addition to the book sale. "[When we started in 2011] the idea was 'let's have books, coffee, some snacks, music, and performances'. We did not know how this would turn out to be because it is hot on May Day. But, many people visited on the first day. Since then, it kept growing organically," shared Sudhanva Deshpande, the managing editor of LeftWord Books.
Over the years, the team has managed to carve a niche and build an audience of its own, making May Day celebrations one of their most significant events. However, keeping in mind the rising number of COVID cases, the Bookstore has cancelled all performances this year and is only allowing visitors at the sale in a phased manner - one has to book a slot in order to attend this event. We met Nayanika Saikia (23), a book blogger from GTB Nagar, on Sunday afternoon.
"I have been here, for a sale of a similar sort, before. So, when I came to know this was happening again, I had to be here. It is very well organised. There is no rush. The organising team has managed everything really well," she shared.
Organised for a cause
International Workers' Day (also called Labour Day) honours and celebrates the working class and seeks to highlight their struggles and demands. "People have forgotten what workers’ rights and workers’ struggles have meant. My argument has always been that the middle class should not forget that many of the things we take for granted - an eight-hour day, the concept of overtime, and more - today, have been won for us by the working class. Therefore, it is very important to express solidarity with the working class in whatever form it may be," expressed Deshpande.
As Delhi's only left-wing bookstore, the May Day team will also be organising a number of talks to throw light on issues of the working people and the concept of labour, capital, etc. "These are small ways to disseminate ideas," shares Deshpande.
He also recounts how a few years ago, Salim, a rickshaw puller from the neighbourhood, spoke about what his labour meant as a worker on May Day. "Salim spoke so beautifully, it was very moving. It made me think of the role a bookstore can play in an area like this, for people like him," concluded Deshpande.