City Obituary – Dinesh Chandra Grover, the Legendary Hindi Publisher of Allahabad
The passing of an age.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
He is sitting against a mostly-empty bookshelf. The upper reaches of the walls are lined with framed portraits of Hindi writers.
This dimly-lit musty space seems to have already lived its best days.
The elderly man himself appears to be the last souvenir of the old Allahabad, a historic university town in Uttar Pradesh, a night-long train journey from Delhi.
Publisher Dinesh Chandra Grover, founder of the Lok Bharti Prakashan who published some of the great authors in Hindi literature such as Mahadevi Varma and Sumitranandan Pant, died on June 23 2017, aged 86.
Mr Grover is survived by his wife, Vachna (Mona), and daughters Divya Raj, Varnika Kapoor and Shuchi Grover.
The Delhi Walla visited Mr Grover and his establishment during a fleeting foray into the legendary landmark. I was briefly in Allahabad early this year. The atmospheric bookstore is next to the iconic Indian Coffee House in the town’s colonial-era Civil Lines.
Shuchi Grover, the youngest of the three daughters who is a researcher on education and computer science in the US, wrote to me, saying that Mr Grover suffered a fatal internal head injury after tripping on uneven stones just outside the bookshop.
Mr Grover founded the publishing house and the accompanying bookstore in 1961. It soon grew to be the place for writers to meet.
The business flourished but it was getting difficult to manage alone during the later years. Mr Grover was getting old. He sold the bulk of his publishing business in 2005 to Raj Kamal Prakashan, a well-known Hindi publishing house that was founded by one of his relatives.
Mr Grover, however, continued to run the bookshop.
In his final years, Mr Grover’s daughter tells me, he had reluctantly started winding down the business.
She says, “We just found a massive collection of black and white pictures of literary gatherings in the bookshop. We are in the process of documenting that golden period.”
During my visit, I also entered the room beyond the one in which Mr Grover was sitting. It was filled with books. A few of his staff members were at work. They were packing books into bundles.
Mr Grover was cremated in Rasoolabad Ghat, on the banks of the holy Ganga.
Mr Grover’s world