Homebound after War
Forty six years ago in a newly independent country, triumph had not yet settled in as Bangladeshis were left dazed by the horrors of the war. The days that followed saw the return of fellow citizens who traveled across the border to train with the allied forces, and in the Shadhin Bangla Betar Kendra (SBBK) studio, to keep up the nationalist spirit through song.
Renowned Nazrul exponent Dalia Nausheen was still a young girl when she left with her family to join SBBK, and returned to find a country still wounded. In a recent conversation, the singer shares her reactions of returning to the country she fought for. Excerpts:
“When the long-awaited news of Bangladesh's Independence first came through, we all rejoiced and started making preparations for our return. Despite the war being over, we knew the journey back home would be dangerous, and a lot of thought had to be put in the routes we needed to take. On the way there, we saw dead bodies still scattered in the fields. We made a stop at the cantonment in Jessore, and I remember seeing a large number of women - some weren't properly clothed and had their hair cropped short. When they looked at you, their eyes showed death. I could not take my eyes away from them, and their faces continue to haunt me to this day. I cannot imagine the suffering and abuse they faced at the hands of the Razakars and the Pakistani army.”
“Shortly after that we were taken to a room, and given some tea. I still remember, as I raised the cup to my mouth, I did not know what I was doing. All I wanted was to go home. As we neared the border, I remember seeing many trucks filled with people going past, rejoicing victory. The celebrations grew stronger on the way, but it all felt very distant to me. Despite the turn of events, we were still in fear of whether the Pakistani army was still there, and it took years to get over this fear.”
“I still cannot accept how my own people turned against each other, and still continue to do so today. It makes one lose faith in the very Independence we fought for. When the brave martyrs and freedom fighters sacrificed their own blood for the rights and freedom for their land, they did not do it to gain any form of recognition. When I look at the corruption and extremism-fueled terrorism still happening today, I feel we have not come really far. We still have a long way to go.”