By Reesana Sifat Siraj, Illustration: Ronny
Ki shonar kotha ki shunchi
Ki bolar kotha ki bolchi
Tirish bochor poreo ami
Shadhinota kei khujchi....
A singer's expression of agony has become the synergy of this month of victory. When in lieu of immeasurable bloodshed, the trophy of independence was clinched in the momentous December of 1971; Bangladesh had celebrated the anticipation of the golden-age to come. The running post-liberation decade has brought about yet another December for the entire nation to rejoice. But the celebration then, and that now do not hold the same worth. True, this year too, the cannons would be fired 31 times; the Liberation War Museum, Smriti Shoudho would greet a sea of visitors and flowers; people would make it a point to grace Bijoy Melas with their presence. But people have different reasons for doing so now and the fused concept of rejoicing victory, no longer prevails. Diverse as the implication of liberation is, so are the ways in which different people observe it.
The generation who had opposed repression and fought for liberty from the Pakistan regime, see it as a fête of chagrin. The Bangladesh they had fought for dies a death everyday in front of their eyes as its history runs amok daily; the acknowledgment they ought to have received lies confined to the unturned pages of the already-falling-apart Muktijodhha record-books. December brings along the torment of having endured torture; the pain of seeing fellow fighters give in to death; the agony of returning home to find no abode left. The losses, the sacrifices, the distress adds up to a price much higher than the return obtained.
To those who lost their loved ones to the war, it is a celebration of remembrance; a gala of renewing long waits for the martyrs' arrivals. It is time for the waiting parents to renew attempts to acquire information on the child they had lost in their escapade; time to spot that long lost child in a crowd; time to bring out old photographs of the missing one, putting them up for display in the living room; it is time to miss those who had once been the heart-and-soul of a household; it is simply time for bereaved survivors to let their tears flow. The month of December appears unendurable; especially to those whom the government has attempted at compensating for their losses with a meager monthly allowance. Could money really take the facade of a son to a mother who had been ripped off her only life-support in 71? Could money bring back insignia to the life of a wife who can no longer don on happiness? Could money ever bring back to life, a father from his portrait to fill in the insecurity of a martyr's child? I think not.
Our very conscientious parents, provided that they know their past right, consider the month of December a commemoration of relinquishing.
It is not only time for them to re-experience the dread, the anticipation and the joy at attaining victory, but also high time for them to instigate the same reverence for and understanding of, victory in us.
To us---it is yet another December. While our local TV channels make it a point to show a 2-minute item on December 1971 everyday, most of us prefer switching channels exactly when that 'useless' news-item is shown. Our national existence has been fingered with so many times, that it has left us perplexed as to who fathered this nation. Our history has been re-written by so many people, so many times, that it has left me wondering whether by the time the next generation comes up, Bangladesh would have any remnants of 'history' left.
Very surprising is the fact that despite having crossed all borders of infamy and guilt, the re-writers of history seem to be basking in the glory of their deeds! The long run aspects of their actions have certainly not yet been deduced as the truth would come out some day; any day from now.
The saddest part is that, the number protesting against this scandalous crime of alteration, the only ones who could tell us the true tales of liberation, is ebbing away. Just as freedom fighters like Shahadat Chowdhury and Nitun Kundu passed away, soon there would be no one left. And at one point in time, 1971 would only remain a 'red letter' year for us; the reason being then unknown. You and I may even live to see 16th December not being a government holiday at all.
Appalling, is the word that comes to mind when you think of the fact that teachers have been fired off their jobs for attempting to teach true history. Pitiable, is the word that comes to mind, when considering the fact that we run 'Ekushey' Book fairs, where books like 'Smriti-Ekattur' are not made available for sale. Wretched is what people would call us for building memorials in remembrance of martyrs and then forgetting all about maintaining them until another December came by. Outrageous is our attitude when we don't even stop to think once, before censuring the Hindu-Muslim aspects of our national anthem. Disgraceful is the treatment we present to that age-old, weather-beaten tarnished piece of green cloth that hangs forgotten from a flag-pole in the school-compound shrieking for replacement and yet goes unnoticed by our otherwise keen eyes. Horrifying appears the setting where the strongest adversary of this nation's creation accelerates in the social hierarchy everyday, while the worthy builders, the Muktijodhhas are condemned to lives of anonymity, poverty and worst of all humiliation courtesy the anti-liberation forces.
Are we too busy to spare a minute of thought to the sovereignty we are enjoying in every instant of our lives? Would it be asking for too much, if the ones who sacrificed their lives to build a 'Shonar Bangla' expected you to have a minimum esteem for the liberty they presented you with? Surely, expecting you to render the national anthem with your heart in it, to look at the flag with some veneration and to assert your national identity with your head held high, is not asking for too big an outlay.
For the cohort that did not get to witness the Liberation War, the right to know true, unperturbed national history is quintessential. Suppressing the truth only reinforces the attempts to look beyond the man-made mirage. And as soon as the delusion wears off, reality is evident. So please, to all concerned, don't compel us to initiate a search for truth beyond the portrayed illusions. Take the taboo off legitimacy; let us know 1971 as it was. Take a stand against this tampered wind of distortions.