Not just a PM
We were not surprised when she reached the tin-roof house in Pallabi to console slain blogger Rajib's mother on the February 16 afternoon in 2013.
She is Sheikh Hasina, one who likes to stay connected with the masses -- whether in power or in the opposition.
Newspapers often publish photos of an emotional Hasina, sometimes in tears, embracing a victim or a victim's family members. She herself endured a lot of pain on several occasions in her life -- the most severe one in 1975.
So, it looked quite natural when she rushed to Pallabi. She was there for about 20 minutes. A photo of the two mothers sitting together was published in this newspaper.
Right then she rose beyond her official position. She epitomised the Bangalee Ma.
Some of her opponents, mostly pro-Jamaat politicians and intellectuals, saw motives behind that visit. They tried to say, directly and indirectly, that there was a political equation in the visit because Rajib, killed on February 15, 2013, was an activist of Shahbagh movement, the unprecedented youth uprising that took off on February 5 that year. The prime minister, her entire cabinet and the ruling party had thrown their weight behind the movement, which soon gained much popularity at home and abroad.
Claims of politicking behind Hasina's visit, however, did not appear to have much currency.
The visit was inspiring to Rajib's family, friends, and fellow bloggers. It was also something of significance to those who had long been fighting religious fundamentalism. During her meeting with Rajib's mother, Hasina boldly said that Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir have no right to do politics in Bangladesh, as the organisations believe in terrorism, not democracy. She also said she would do everything necessary to tackle the scourge of extremism. She said so because fanatics were blamed for the killing.
She had indeed offered some ray of hope on a day that was full of despair stemming from the brutal killing overnight.
Fast forward to the present, over two years after Rajib's murder, a lot has happened in the meantime. We have seen moments of gloom -- rise of Hefajat, Jamaat's mayhem, split in the Gonojagoron Mancha, the government's distancing itself from the Shahbagh movement, and of course wanton violence and killings in the name of enforcing blockade and hartal.
And a few days ago, we lost another blogger, Avijit Roy, and this time too fingers were pointed at fanatics.
But this time Sheikh Hasina was not yet seen with Prof Ajoy Roy, father of Avijit. We also haven't seen any statement or reaction from her.
She must have been busy for obvious reasons. We don't want to believe that the images -- face of the grief-stricken father, Avijit's wife Bonya bloodied but still standing, Avijit's lifeless body in a pool of blood -- haven't moved her.
We don't want to believe that this time she is just a prime minister.