The Promise of 1971 | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 17, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, December 17, 2017

The Promise of 1971

His ears attuned to the husky whisper

Of the Pindi procurer Aqleem Akhtar, 

the Queen Generalwho had earned

more favor than his trusted advisors, 

the inebriated Yahya gave the order

to batter the unyielding Bengali bones

with the fierce guns of his battle tanks.

So they let loose their fire, shredding

the peaceful spring night of March 25th, 

burying mothers, fathers, and children

under the rubble of crumbling buildings

as the flames leapt to the distant stars

and the heavens cried out in agony.

The womb of those ashes bred us –  

workers, farmers, and students;

rebel cops and soldiers as well;

men, women, Hindus, Muslims,

humanists, secularists, and more – 

bound by a solemn promise to undo

the grievous wrongs of history.

Centuries of shameful subjection 

by the marauding Mughals and

the perfidious British – who shamed

us for our heritage – and the rabid

Pakistanis – who spilled our blood

for our language – couldn't rob us 

of our abiding lore and mores.

So heads held high we marched 

forward and fought for nine restless

months against the tyrant's Juggernaut – 

for a land where knowledge wouldn't

be a captive of platitudes and reason

wouldn't lose its way into blind belief,

where the mind would be free 

and life's worth would rest on virtue –

till that afternoon of 16th December, when

Tiger Niazi's trembling hand signed

the surrender document anda blood-red

sunlit up the leaden winter sky

from the green flag of my motherland.

Ronny Noor teaches at the Department of Literatures and Cultural Studies, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

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