How do you define life? To Harun-ur-Rashid, it is all about struggle, labour and responsibility.
He considers ups and downs inevitable parts of life. As someone who wanted to turn his life around as an entrepreneur, he faced setbacks several times.
But in the end, he succeeded against all odds.
For the last three decades, he has been in the business of selling postage stamps, and this is what he wants to do for the rest of his life.
"This work delights me. Now I am 56 years old, but I never get tired of dealing in stamps. Instead, it gives me more mental strength," Harun told The Business Standard.
He sells stamps in front of Mokarram Book House in the capital's New Market, a vibrant shopping destination for the city dwellers. There was a time when he had stamps from 200 countries around the world in his collection. Now, the number has come down to around 150.
He reminisced about the old days while talking to this correspondent about his stamp business. He grew up in Cumilla's Debidwar upazila. He passed the secondary school certificate test in 1980. It was the time when BNP founder Ziaur Rahman was the president of Bangladesh.
After completing school, Harun enrolled at Comilla Victoria Government College and soon got involved in politics. He later became embroiled in scuffles and was afraid of being arrested by the police. That fear drove him to leave Cumilla and move to Dhaka.
"I started living at a paternal uncle's place after coming to Dhaka. I worked as a private tutor to make money. This went on for six months," Harun recalled.
It was Harun's uncle who suggested he start a business instead of looking for a job. The young man did as he was told.
But before that, he worked at a stationery shop in New Market for five years. He then opened his own store to sell stationery, but the business failed. He incurred losses and quit.
"Who I trusted deceived me," he said. Sadness was evident in his voice.
It was in 1990 when he started his second business. He rented a small store on the outer side of a shop in New Market and started selling stationery and stamps.
But luck did not favour him this time either. He faced losses.
The failure, however, could not dishearten him. A man of perseverance as he was, he took some time off before starting his third venture.
This time, he was only selling stamps. That is the business he is still running today.
Collecting stamps was his childhood fascination. When the postmaster would come to deliver letters in his village, he would run after him.
"He [the postmaster] would give me stamps if I would follow him for a while. Since then, collecting stamps gradually became kind of an addiction," Harun took a trip down the memory lane.
He now has 15,000-20,000 stamps. He buys the local ones from the General Post Office in the capital. When someone he knows goes abroad to travel, he tells that person to bring foreign stamps for him.
The passionate stamp seller has been suffering from diabetes as well as kidney and heart problems. Despite different ailments, he wants to continue his business.
"I have been doing this for so long. That is why I do not feel like closing the business even though I have aged," he said.
I have been doing this for so long. That is why I do not feel like closing the business even though I have aged
When the novel coronavirus broke out in the country, his life took a different turn. Like other businesses, the pandemic impacted his small business, too.
"Previously, I would sell stamps worth Tk2,500-3,000 every day. Nowadays, it has plummeted to Tk500. It will take time for my business to return to its previous state," he said.
His main customers are school students, who no longer come out of the house like they used to because of the spread of the virus. This has caused a drastic fall in sales.
"Before the pandemic, students would queue at my store to buy stamps at the end of the school day."
Harun has two sons. One of them completed his master's education from Comilla Victoria Government College two years ago and now works in freelancing. The other son passed the secondary school certificate exam and went to Saudi Arabia as a migrant around six years ago.
The stamp entrepreneur has a happy family. He can quit his business at this age as his sons are able to support him.
But he refuses to do so as he enjoys making his own money.
"What would I do at home if I close the business? I wanted to quit but I will not enjoy sitting idly at home and doing nothing," he said.
He went on, "I need medicine that costs Tk100 every day. If I call it quits and return to my village home, I have to ask my sons for money. That gives me an uncomfortable feeling."
Harun now lives in a bachelor house on the opposite side of Dhaka College. His family members live in the Cumilla village home.
Apart from stamps, he sells coins and old notes of different countries. He has coins of more than 100 countries in his collection.
"I had a bigger collection. Now, I have abandoned old notes of over 100 countries. These notes are in great demand," he added.