The lonely warrior
ON the 84th birth anniversary of Tajuddin Ahmed one tends to become contemplative. There are so many reasons to do so. Whenever we think of Tajuddin the mind tracks backward to the tumultuous days of 1971, when death stalked every Bengali every minute; when the air of Bengal was filled with the burnt smell of gunpowder; when vultures circled low in the sky and when Bangladeshis had to run across the borders to take refuse in India for fear of their lives.
The bloodthirsty Pakistani occupation forces were on a rampage to save their flag through murder, rape and arson, thereby scripting the worst genocide of the century. Some wayward local collaborators had joined in their desperation to rescue Pakistan from the mud pit in Bengal.
The nation needed a leader in the absence of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The nation found one in Tajuddin Ahmed. He and his compatriots took up the most venerable mission of driving out the occupying marauders and hoist the flag of Bangladesh on the soil.
It was a mission fraught with intrigue and danger in every step of the way but Tajuddin was not to be daunted by those. He knew how to neutralise the small minds that were out to undermine his works. He organised a daredevil fighting force called Freedom Fighters (FF) with students, farmers and workers and created history. The Bengalis fondly called this lungi-wearing fighters "Muki Bahini" and gave them shelter and food whenever they came to their village.
In the international front, he had to handle big powers like the USA and China on one hand and India and Russia on the other. Not many leaders would have been able to sustain the pull from the two sides. One had to have a level head and thank God Tajuddin carried one on his shoulders. One cannot but admire the fact that he kept his cool until achieving the ultimate objective -- emergence of Bangladesh.
On the 84th birth anniversary, this year, I remembered Tanvir Mokammel's short film on Tajuddin Ahmed "Nihshongo Sharothee" which I saw last year. I feel young people of today should see the film to learn about the contribution of this great politician in the making of Bangladesh. The one-hour film says a lot about seemingly unknown works of the first prime minister of Bangladesh who had taken hold of the hull of a nascent administration against all odds.
The visuals of the protagonist attending meetings and processions, working in the solitude of his humble office room, talking to the freedom fighters in the war fronts would generate interest in the minds of the young people to know more about him. Mokammel could not have come up with a better title for his film. Nihshongo means lonely and Tajuddin indeed was a lonely warrior in the War of Liberation. Not many lonely warriors won a war. Tajuddin did.