Looking Back into History
Cover design - Shahabuddin Ahmed
Remember the Rastafarian song, “If you know your history, then you would know where you coming from, then you wouldn't have to ask me, who the eck do I think I am…?”
On asking what he or she knows about our history, a youngster will sigh and shake me to the core with plenty of rhetoric questions; would they ever let me know? And why should I care to know when the past couldn't leave us a livable land? Why should I even care to live here? “Of all the feelings that people have, the most beautiful is surely love. And of all the things that one is capable of loving the world, the most intense love has to be for one's own country, one's motherland. We are very lucky that the war we fought for independence of our mother land has a history of supreme sacrifice and unbelievable bravery and valor and great achievement. When people hear about this history, they not only feel deep love and compassion, but they are also filled with pride at the thought of what this country's people have achieved,” says Muhammad Zafar Iqbal, in the opening section of the booklet History of the Liberation War, published in December 2008, and which has set the record of highest selling book in the Ekushey Boi Mela in February 2009.
The writer who had received the Bangla Academy award in 2004, holds creditable status to Bengali sci-fi lovers, and is also cherished for column writing on current events. The twenty pages that he wrote, about the Liberation war and also its history, is refined enough to hold elaborate details; prejudices of West Pakistan, having 25 times more armed forces than we did, or one out of every seven people leaving the county as refugee. The booklet is even obliged to be a proof of history with four dozens of references including one written by a Pakistani army officer; and traces of sources, as the video footage of 25th March 1971 taken by BUET's professor Nurul Ula available at the Liberation War archive on the internet. More than anything else it tells the stories of bravery, operation jackpot on 15th August that blew up several enemy mine ships, internationally commended guerrilla group, Crack Platoon operating under the nose of the Pakistani military, and people from all walks of life joining the war with a fervent vigour. Furthermore, it leads the way to appreciations for the nation, for freedom and for the heroes who have supremely sacrificed.
The writer also says that those who have lived through the war has seen not only the malice, the lies, the injustice and vicious inhumanity, but also the love residing inside the people of the country, humanity and greatness that made martyrs out of three millions. The aggravated and apathetic generation of today needs to be familiar with this history because only then will they know how the whole nation once walked with a single dream and fought for it.
Published by 'Protiti' this must-read work is available both in Bengali and English, translated by the writer's daughter Yeshim Iqbal. The cost is far from being a fortune; and the gripping cover with a painting by the internationally applauded painter Shahabuddin Ahmed, insinuating the zeal and strength of liberation, gives a wad of life to this wonderful effort. It is also available on the website of History of Liberation War and can easily be downloaded for free.
(The writer is Lecturer, Department of English Language and Literature, Premier University, Chittagong.)