Reviewed by Efadul Huq
Another year, another December, another 16th and another celebration. 35 years of "Independence". Stampede at the Savar Smriti Shoudho. People attired in red and green. Street vendors everywhere selling Bangladeshi flags and not that of Argentina or Brazil. Barrage of gab-fests, TV plays on the same story and politicians making fresh new pledges to keep working for "Shonar Bangla".
And that endeavour is being marked by ongoing political mayhem, oborodh that are crippling the national economy, mindless violence prevails and the fate of a free and fair election is dangling in the hands of an ever-changing Election Commission (picture the familiar image of wacko Jacko dangling his covered baby precariously from a hotel window in Berlin a few years ago, for a better understanding).
Perhaps Bob Dylan was right when he said, “Democracy don't rule the world, you'd better get that in your head. This world is ruled by violence, but I guess that's better left unsaid.”
People and things change their brands before you can spell "Rumplestiltskin". Razakars and other Pakistani collaborators who had done everything in their powers to stop the formation of Bangladesh are now "super patriots" calling Freedom Fighters and forces that actively contributed in the Liberation War "traitors". Former dictator is embraced by political parties that were once responsible for overthrowing him. In the name of politics, everything is possible here, even if it means discarding the party's principles.
We are taught to "adjust" or "compromise" by our parents. Maybe there are some offences that should not be forgiven or past that should not be forgotten. Or our national character resembles that of the alluvial soil of this delta; new layers are formed after every flood. Maybe for a change, we should learn how to hold a grudge, get crazy mad and say "enough" to the farce that has been going on way too long.
It is the farmers, artistes, doctors, engineers, litterateurs, educationists, economists...namely people of this country and not the politicians who have made significant achievements. If anything, this self-destructive politics has only hindered national development.
As I listen to Moushumi Bhowmick singing Jessore Road (based on Allen Ginsberg's September on Jessore Road), I wonder how many children were lost, how many daughters turned to ghosts, what was it like to be homeless under the grey sun or wait in the line for food at a refugee camp. I don't know what its like to hide from flying bullets, or be publicly humiliated by strangers checking my religious identity. I don't know because I haven't seen the war and the texts have never given me sufficient information on that. In fact, the information the texts keep changing, just like everything else in the country, as the regime changes. What to believe and whom to believe?
My father, a Freedom Fighter, watches the news with mixed emotions -- disbelief, frustration, anger and amazement: A self-proclaimed "sachcha Pakistani" during the war conveying his tributes to the martyrs. I wonder why he doesn't have a never-ending stock of stories to tell about the war.
Thirty-five years since the Liberation War happened. Are we "liberated" yet?
(R) thedailystar.net 2006