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By Raisa Rafique

A few months back there was an episode of 'Tritio Matra' (talk-show) on Channel I where Altaf Mahmud's daughter appeared as one of the guest stars. She mentioned a Facebook discussion thread she had once started regarding the delicate issue of the singing of 'Amar Bhaier Rokte Rangano Ekushe February' in the 2011 ICC World Cup inauguration ceremony without their family's permission/approval. A very formal and tactical argument between the concerned parties; really, but she was nevertheless prepared for almost all sorts of rational opinions and POVs for and against the topic. What she wasn't prepared for, however, was some disgruntled young person's outburst of complaints-'why this fuss over the stupid war after all these days?' This apparently literate person's line of reasoning was that whatever the martyrs did for this country had all been in the past and therefore should not concern us anymore. So why must we drag them into all discussions every now and then? In fact, the exact expression this person used to describe our martyrs of the war was- “…kobe more bhoot hoye gese…”

A little side-story. See, when yours truly was younger, she hated History lessons. It was barbaric; memorising all those dates and events and the tongue-twisting names of people and places. After all, everyone knows the common joke-

“Teacher: What happened in 1757 on the valley of Plassey?

Student: I'm sorry Sir, I wasn't quite yet born at that time…”

Struggling with the mammoth chapters of the Indus civilization, the Hindu kings and their dynasties, the Mughals and the Nawabs in Bengal, the British Rule and finally, the birth of Bangladesh through 'Muktijudhdho', this writer had once ended up crying to her teacher, “Why must we memorise things that happened in the past? What's in it for us?” The teacher, who had quite the reputation for being severe with his students, had surprised me with a once-in-a-lifetime smile, “Because it is important.” I didn't understand what he meant at that time.

For those sadly uninformed, Altaf Mahmud is one of the most respected martyred intellectuals of our country. He is the second and final music composer of the legendary song 'Amar Bhaier Rokte Rangano', the one tune we still sing every 21st February. During the War of Liberation, this man created a secret camp inside his own house and hid firearms and ammunition under the ground. He didn't leave or flee Dhaka like everyone else, instead he inspired, led and organized the freedom fighters at the risk of his own life. As a cultural activist he wrote many patriotic songs and sent them to be aired on the Shwadhin Bangla Betar Kendro under the very watchful eye of the Pak army. He was captured and taken away from his family members on August 30, 1971 and tortured to death. He was and still is one of the bravest men of all times who never feared to lay down their lives for the country. Now, almost 40 years later, his daughter appears on TV, heart-broken and nearly in tears with humiliation, and watching that show, overcome with a stinging sense of shame, I suddenly remembered my History teacher.

History teaches us two things: to be smart and not to repeat the mistakes made by its unfortunates; and never to disrespect those who make it into its golden pages. It's boring learning the life-histories of the people who had the guts to do something that you and I could never even dream of doing. It's boring, yes, but it's still important enough to be aware of and to understand. The entire chemical mechanism of CFC eating away at the Ozone Layer is dead boring but if you were to say you don't know what a Global Warming is, what would that make you look like? An idiot. Imagine what not knowing about your own country makes you. Clearly, as observed, it makes you oh-so-unknowingly insult the people who really matter. Understanding one's past and being proud of it, knowing who to honour and who to abhor- these are the basic lessons of history. It's like with oxygen: the amount of information available on the single chemical element is monumental. But nobody expects you to know all that. It's OK to know the basics: Oxygen lets us breathe, we cannot live without it. That much would suffice.

In our Liberation War, more than 30 lakh people were murdered, 10 lakh women disgraced and 1 crore people took refuge in India. The freedom fighters fought in 11 sectors. March 26 is our Independence Day, December 14 the Martyred Intellectuals Day and December 16 the Victory Day. Martyrs are people who died for the country. Freedom fighters are people who fought and protected the country when others fled. Without them there wouldn't be any country for you and me to live in. Rajakars are people who turned against their own countrymen in war. We must give the martyrs and the freedom fighters the supreme of all honours at any cost and we must always love our own country.

Did you know there are people our age in this country who are not aware of basic facts like those mentioned in the previous paragraph and constantly need to Google them? They don't understand why the war took place and have no emotions whatsoever concerning it. Worst of all, they don't even care. Frightening, isn't it?

A 'proper' education is indeed a blessing.

Again, a pretty decent turnout, with good variety. The article selected below was chosen for its humour, as well as the fact that it sort of broke out of the whole fiction-zone that BetaWriters had gotten into lately. For next week, our topic will be: Burden. Submissions have to be sent in to ds.risingstars@gmail.com before Sunday noon. Word limit is 500 words. Good luck.

Battle of the Battles

By Aaisha Bhuiyan

We have all had our share of ups and downs in our lives; losing the last slice of pizza, pencils, the piece of cheesecake you had kept in the refrigerator for a morning snack. No, I am not seven but yes, I choose to talk about the daily quarrels rather than the Japanese at Pearl Harbour.

Battle at Dhanmondi “Noi number”
We have all heard it; whiny girlfriends clinging to their boyfriends and complaining about how this dude in her coaching waved at her. Oh my God. Waved! The guy WAVED at her. So, our fellow gangster starts pushing buttons into his iPhone, raging over that light hand movement involving all five fingers. And so, the battle begins. The girlfriend is now at home, probably on Facebook or watching another episode of Friends while our Bhai is fuming over the poor little boy who waved at his girlfriend. Good luck with you face, darling.

Battle for food
WHACK. THUD. The last French fry falls out of the little folded piece of paper at the burger joint. Two pairs of eyes narrow; a local bystander snickers and yells, “Fight, Fight!” There's clawing, ripping, pinching, punching, kicking and all those other verbs Eminem uses in his famous, “Love the way you lie”. And after our sweat glands have exhausted themselves and our adrenaline refuse to cooperate, we are both breathing again. And we're at the cash register, ordering another French fry.

Battle with the indoor-neighbours
Giving mothers something to do in their spare time, since four hundred- something B.C. Mothers are amazing, don't get me wrong but heaven forbid, once they start talking, they are like bees. If you even consider trying to make them stop, it will sting. So it's a Saturday and there's nothing better going on in your mind than the fact that there is school tomorrow. And out of the blue, she appears, muttering about dirty rooms and bad eating habits.

Battle with the bladder
This has got to be the most painful yet; smiling up at your teacher as if nothing happened since he has clearly banned you from your everyday bathroom trips during Chemistry. And there you are, inside, fighting an urge to pee, to breathe. And time has suddenly forgotten how to fly. Each second is like forever, each tick-tock immeasurable. Your friend asks you if anything is wrong and you just want to punch him and ask him to shut up. But as school rules prohibit fighting, you manage a nice long stare. He looks away, murmuring something inaudible.

And by the Grace of God, the bell rings.



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