Remembering freedom's dawn

Photo: Amirul Rajiv

Thirty-nine years ago freedom came into our courtyards and all across the hamlets, villages and towns of this land. It came with a clear sense of triumph and yet with the feeling that our victory was based on much bloodletting, much pillage and therefore much tragedy. All of that gloom had been caused by a marauding Pakistan occupation army in nine months of a war that saw three million Bengalis done to death, two hundred thousand Bengali women molested by the soldiers and the landscape ravaged all over.

If that was the bleak chapter of the tale, there was the other, more vibrant one. It was the story of the freedom fighters, their exploits, their dedication to the cause of liberty. And that is how this morning, even as we recall the millions who died in order for all of us to live in freedom, we celebrate that long-ago dawn of freedom. And we do so, again, in remembrance of the visionary political leadership of the time. We recall too the thousand and one agonies that ten million Bengalis, as refugees, went through in that year of darkness and deliverance. And we have not forgotten the pains, the fears and in the end the sure confidence of sixty five million Bengalis who, as exiles in their own land, nevertheless did not lose faith in the eventual triumph of the cause.

Freedom becomes us. That old truth is upon us once more in this new dawn of commemorating an old one.