The Freedom Fighter | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 12, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, January 12, 2008

The Freedom Fighter

Nurul lives in Feni
near the lichu bagan

tiny flecks of mud
pale against his skin
his foot is healed
from the gunshot wound
36 years ago

He is leading my father
down the furrowed dirt path
to a great old battleground
now host to picnickers
under a tapestry of trees

I'm not listening
to their conversation
I'm captured by the light
as it drifts between bamboo
and blue sky
by Nurul standing barefoot
in a dusty checkered lungi
next to my father in polished leather shoes

He gestures high
and my father laughs
I catch a snatch of speech
it's not the arch angel
my father is saying
bringing rain when we pray
it's the science of weather
the art of chance
Nurul nods
meghe meghe bari lage
I imagine a celestial war
lovers dressed as clouds
coursing in, crumbling
liquid as they meet
We come to a mud house
with a naked child hiding
between bright wet sari and opaque petticoat
and they're not laughing anymore

I don't remember
how much Nurul gets each month
in return for what he gave our country
what I do remember
is that the walls of the house
are smooth, freshly basted
each broom stroke on the ground
a hypnotic visual rhythm

I don't care how many times you pray
Nurul says at last
his voice sliding into my soundtrack
if you murder someone
your hands will never be clean

spoken like a freedom fighter
my father says
Nurul shrugs
it's only part of the truth
the leaves of the lichu trees judder
and not one part of it, my father replies
comes cheap
Abeer Hoque is a Fulbright Scholar in Dhaka. She is currently holding a photography exhibition at The Alliance Francaise, Dhanmondi.

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