In these times of political unrest and uncalled for violence, I sometimes wonder what things were like back in the days prior to liberation. The days when there was only one fundamental enemy, and the insane possibility that maybe, just maybe, we could be free of them once and for all.
And then, once victory was ours, what did it feel like to be an eyewitness to the birth of a brand new nation? Did the nine months of trials and tribulations and all the struggles and crimes leading to the declaration of independence all seem worth it in the end?
How heavy was the hope and optimism in every fellow countryman’s heart when the Bangladeshi flag went up for the very first time?
As far as history can trace, the very initial version of the flag was hoisted in Bangladesh for the first time at Dhaka University in the early days of March 1971. The new flag without the map in the middle was officially adopted on 17 January, 1972.
The green field symbolises the lush, green land of Bangladesh, the chosen shade very different from those of our neighbours in order to assert our singularity. The red disc in the middle represents the blood of those who gave their lives for Bangladesh’s independence. The red disc also symbolises the sun rising over Bengal and the pledge of independence after the terrible genocide in the night of 25 March, 1971.
The red and green combination is not something you come across often. So when people do, they always immediately relate it to the Bangladesh flag. In fact, it has reached the point of exclusively being identified as the flag colour combo.
As the month of December greets us, shops start filling racks with clothes catered to Victory Day and flag sellers start appearing in the chaotic streets of Dhaka. The media focuses on the Liberation War and cultural functions are organised by expat Bangladeshis all around the world.
But beyond just the basic consumerism, what do we see when we catch sight of the red and green? Do we swell with pride at the thought that “the underdog wins against all odds” is the shining story of our still-young nation?
Do we remember the stories shared by our parents of how they left their homes, possessions and even loved ones to seek shelter during the trying times of the Liberation War? Do we say a little prayer for the Freedom Fighters who sacrificed their lives to ensure that we could speak our thoughts freely, have our own identity and be free of all the shackles that constrained our development?
The generation of Freedom Fighters is quickly diminishing, while the current generation is relentlessly looking for a way out. 42 years is too short a time for people to lose faith in their nation already. The red and green blood that’s a part of all of us needs to flow more freely, without all the negativity. We don’t have to start another war to start another revolution. We can rebel with our achievements – achievements we earn for ourselves on a daily basis with our own talent, despite the failings of the Government.
The atmosphere in Bangladesh at the moment is not a positive one. People are filled with fear, pessimism and frustration. Every day is a struggle amongst all the unrest.
December, a month usually reserved for festivities, is far from being celebratory. Amongst it all, let’s not forget that this is the month when we finally became our own entity. When we got what was rightfully ours, despite all the cards that were stacked against us.
Although we might all feel helpless right now, let’s not be hopeless. The human mind is limited in its ability to think long term. Instead of letting the cynicism regarding the political climate cloud your foresight, remember all the times you felt proud of being a Bangladeshi. Every time the Tigers win a cricket match, every gifted Bangladeshi child who gets international recognition, every community development success story, every flourishing local business, even every time you see a toddler wearing a red and green sari with grace beyond her years … love for your country does not need to be all-consuming, it can come in little bouts every so often to remind you of your identity.
Let’s all wear our red and green with pride this time around like we do every year and not let a few powerful people lessen the love we have for Bangladesh.
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Make-up: Farzana Shakil
Wardrobe: LS desk