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Sister act: library for less fortunate

Manaswi (in blue) and Suhasini (in beige) Dugar with members of the library they have set up at their Dover Road home. Picture by Arnab Mondal

Ballygunge: One is a Potterhead, the other a Roald Dahl fan. But the sisters were on the same page when it came to sharing their collection of books with less privileged children in the neighbourhood.

Manaswi and Suhasini Dugar had a special gift to offer this Christmas when they opened a library for kids, most of whom don't go to school and can barely read.

The two students of Sushila Birla Girls' School hope to make the children fall in love with books and get learning in the process.

A large share of the books are from the girls' personal collection.

"We had so many books that were just lying on the shelves after a read or two. We didn't want to just give them away," said Manaswi, a student of Class VII and a huge Potter fan.

When Manaswi and her little sister shared the idea of starting a library with their mom, she was encouraging.

Thus was born Reader's Planet on the first floor of the Dugars' home at 16/A Dover Road in Ballygunge.

The 300sq feet library has more than 1,000 books and around 20 children aged five to 15 from Richie Road, Deodar Street, Panditya Road and Hazra Road have already registered. The library is open from 2pm to 7pm on all days, except Sundays.

Suhasini, who is eagerly waiting to start reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and get ahead of elder sister Manaswi in reading the Potter series, said, "We get around 10 books from our school library every month. We also borrow from the American and British libraries. So we end up reading a lot. But we want to share the joy of reading with others."

The Class IV student's current favourites include Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda.

"My daughters, including the eldest one studying abroad, love reading. On birthdays or other occasions, we always gift them books. So, it is a 15-year-old collection to which we have added some new books as well," said mom Sheetal Dugar. "I am happy they thought sharing the books with other children."

Anushka Rajvanshi of Richie Road, who takes tuitions at home, has chosen a Hindi storybook, Charwaha aur Bhediya, to start with.

Sumana Das, 12, who is yet to take admission in a school after coming from Bihar to the city for treatment, was is happy to have access to English books to brush up her reading skills.

Sharmila Bose, the principal of Sushil Birla Girls' School, is proud of the sisters. "The initiative is commendable. We have a social service club at school, where students do a lot of good work," she said.

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