Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, December 18, 2008

Anika Tabassum
Photo: Sazzad

37 years already, and here we are.
What with Eid, Christmas, the end of another year and the countrywide election, this December is overflowing with a handful of festivals, celebrations and ceremonies; but to Bangladesh in particular, it has always been known overwhelmingly as the month of liberation and hope.

16th December. The blood-wrecked but glorious end to the war of the nation; because unlike what many believe, it truly was the war of the nation. The war wasn't fought by just a bunch of sophisticated boys with state-of-the-art weapons, as some films sometimes represent, because that just happens to be one of those stereotypes. It was fought by everybody in some way or the other- the educated and the not-so-educated, the rich and the poor, the young and the old, men and women. The war wasn't pretty. People were tortured and killed and maimed in ways more than one. They often had to watch their relatives, their brothers and sisters, their parents die in front of their eyes, helpless. They were trod on and ignored till it became so unbearable that the nation retaliated, and how.

Let's give them some space, minus the exaggerated soapy words and the fancy once-in-a-while parties. They can't hear us, but we can hear ourselves. Here's to the farmers who left their fields and the fishermen who left their fishing nets and all the other ordinary tradesmen who left everything they had to fight. Here's to the children who let go of their childhood and fought for us, who were killed or left to live, but with terrible memories no child should be left with. Here's to the families who gave shelter to completely unknown muktijoddhas and to people in trouble during the war, risking their own lives in the process. There were whole families who hid weapons of the liberation war, stored rations for the freedom fighters in their own homes.

There were the people who contributed in raising the morale of everybody in the country, especially the freedom fighters, without being directly involved in the war themselves. How can we forget the countless singers, their haunting tunes carried through the radio across miles in every nook and corner of the country. A special mention should definitely go out to the Shadhin Bangla Betar Kendro. There was the chorompotro, the satirical version of the war which inspired so many young men to join the war and guaranteed a good laugh and a heightened sense of enthusiasm to every fighter and to every family in hiding.
People fought with whatever they had- they didn't necessarily have all the high-tech weapons. Thousands of women were tortured and raped- and this is something that is generally skipped and glossed over, but it is worth mentioning because not mentioning these women would mean undermining their tremendous sacrifices. The intellectuals who were treated like dirt and killed brutally in a final attempt to paralyze the country forever have paid, with blood, for their genius and dedication to build anew. The country will be in debt of journalists from allover the world who represented the true situation to the world and gathered support for the Liberation War of Bangladesh.

There were people like Lear Levin who collected footage of the war (and was recently honoured) and George Harrison and Ravi Shankar who held a concert for Bangladesh, and many others whose names have not reached us - not yet. There were the foreign nationals who fought side by side with the Bangladeshi freedom fighters. We remember. If we had it our way we would personally thank everyone of you, even the ones we did not, could not, mention for the lack of complete knowledge about something as far-reaching and momentous as the Liberation War of Bangladesh, but that is not possible. This will have to do, inadequate as it is.



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