If there is a price for freedom, what is it and who pays it? And if the debt remains unsettled, how does a generation get absolved of the sins of the last?
Victory, valour, bravery…that is one side of the coin.
On the other is a tale of death, sexual assault…genocide…violence at a level that shatters the very notions of everything civilised nations holds on to.
And then there is another side, perhaps somewhat neglected in the annals of history —
The 10 million people who fled the country fearing persecution led a nine-month life in a state of dehumanisation; for the thousands of Bengalis stranded in Pakistan post December 1971, life was as dehumanising.
It was not that the blow was not on the lives of these people, both groups estranged in strange lands for different reasons. The diplomatic stalemate that took years to solve, saw relentless suffering; truth be told, there are still people on both sides, yet to return to where they feel they belong.
Following the events of that fateful Thursday afternoon, neighbour turned against neighbours; the friendly smile that would once greet the colleagues every morning got replaced with aversion. The state turned against the very people who once served it with diligence.
Armed combatants who once shared a brotherhood became foes.
And yes, there was violence, death, rape and the butchery of war in a post war environment.
And for what?
The simple desire to return to the new country they now felt they serve; be amongst the people they grew up with? They wanted to return to a place they could now call home, with a heart full of dreams and aspirations.
Not all dreams/aspirations are turned to reality. And hence, we still continue the struggle…
Yet, this is not a struggle for liberation; this is a struggle for freedom. There cannot be a price for a lost life; there is no way to assuage the pangs of losing one's honour. The debt we owe to the generation who witnessed 71 is what we stand upon. It is our task to bear the torch, to build upon, and share and carry the spirit of liberty, zeal for life, and an insatiable desire to turn our collective dreams to reality.
As an individual, I find no glory in war, for war is against everything that makes the human mind beautiful. But there are lessons that one should learn from battles and the motto is clear —the struggle for freedom is never ending.
Bask in the warmth of liberty and feel pride in calling yourself a citizen of a free nation. But never forget the immeasurable price we had to pay for it.