Khuki, a woman in her sixties, is a familiar face for newspaper agents and readers in Rajshahi.
Every day at dawn Khuki walks from her home in the Shiroil area to the Rail-gate Market to buy newspapers from agents. She then walks to the railway station, the Shiroil bus terminal, Sagarpara, Alupotti, Shaheb Bazar, the RDA Market, and the New Market area to sell newspapers to people there. Khuki has some regular customers in these areas.
Dil Afroz Khuki, the only female newspaper hawker in Rajshahi, has been selling newspapers in the city for more than four decades.
Sometimes Khuki sits at a street corner and tries to persuade pedestrians to buy newspapers from her, but she never overcharges them.
When this correspondent interviewed her at the Rail-gate Market on October 31, she said she got married when she was in the seventh grade and started living in Dhaka. After her husband's death in 1980, she returned to Rajshahi and started selling newspapers to earn a living.
Khuki said, "I have been selling newspapers for 40 years, but I have never overcharged anyone."
Abdul Kadir, a shopkeeper in Shrioil, told this correspondent, "Khuki is my younger sister's friend. Her husband died a few years after she was married. She has been selling newspapers since then. I am one of her regular customers. She brings me my paper every morning."
At the beginning Khuki sold "Shaptaik Dunia" – a local weekly newspaper of Rajshahi. Then she started selling local newspapers like 'Daily Sonali Sangbad,' 'Upachar,' 'Nabo Chetona,' 'Daily Sunshine,' and 'Sonar Desh' along with many other national dailies and magazines published from Dhaka. But now she sells only the newspapers that are published in Rajshahi because sales have dropped.
Khuki said, "Newspaper sales were good before. People bought newspapers if I brought it to them. But sales have declined now – fewer people want to buy newspapers."
Despite the difficulties, the female newspaper hawker is determined to continue selling papers until she dies.
Agents know Khuki as an ideal vendor because she never buys newspapers from them on credit.
Liton Islam, the circulation manager of the Daily Sunshine, said, "Khuki apa has been taking papers from me for the last 13 years. She never bought them on credit. Even three years ago she bought around 100 copies of the Daily Sunshine. Now she takes only 20-30 copies daily."
Harun, the circulation manager of the Daily Sonali Sangbad, said, "Earlier Khuki bought around 150 copies of the paper, but now she takes 30-50 copies."
Jamiul Karim Sujon, president of the Rajshahi Hawkers Sramik Union said, "I know Khuki apa since I started the business of selling newspapers in 2000. I have seen her selling newspapers in the city since then."
Dil Afroz Khuki lives alone because she has no children. Her relatives say that she became obstinate after her husband's death, and she is becoming slightly eccentric as she grows older. She does not take help from anyone and earns her living by selling newspapers.
Shams Ur Rahman Rumi, Khuki's nephew, said "Aunt has been selling newspapers for a long time now. She does not listen to us when we ask her not to do it. Nobody knows how much money people owe her for newspapers that she has sold on credit."