“I’m proud that my husband sacrificed his life for the country”
"The grief of losing my husband will stay for the rest of my life. Yet, I am proud that he sacrificed his life for the country and became a martyr. With that pride I try to hide the pain of losing him. Afterall, how many are blessed enough to become a martyr for the country?"
Umme Salma, wife of assistant commissioner of police Rabiul Karim who was slain in the militant attack on Holey Artisan café in 2016, said while talking to The Daily Star on the sixth anniversary of the grim event.
After Rabiul's death, Salma got appointed as an administrative officer at Jahangirnagar University and has since then been living at her paternal house in Depashai village under Dhaka's Dhamrai upazila. Occasionally she visits her husband's paternal residence in Katigram of Manikganj Sadar upazila with their two children.
Rabiul Karim was an assistant commissioner with the Detective Branch (DB) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) and was killed during the 12-hour standoff with militants on July 1, 2016 at the Holey Artisan café.
Rabiul's younger brother Shamsuzzaman Shams, who is working as Savar correspondent with a national daily, has kept the memories of his elder brother alive with much love and reverence.
"Every year, before the Eid I remember him. He used to phone me and ask, 'Hey, won't you go home in the Eid?' Almost always we would return home on Eid," Shams told The Daily Star.
Rabiul's father is no more. His mother Karimunnesa lives at their Katigram residence in Manikganj.
Apart from his family members, Rabiul's memories are still alive with Beaconing Light Organisation of Mankind and Society (BLOOMS), a school he had founded to provide education to children with special needs. The school is still operational, with its number students having raised from 47 to 69, only their patron is no more.
Riyad Hossain, who has been a student at the school since 2011, has many memories with Rabiul Karim. It has been six years since he last met his Rabiul Bhai, and misses him a lot.
"Riyad sometimes stands silently in front of Rabiul's portrait at the school and keeps staring at the image, and then would join others but remain silent the whole time," Rajib Ahmed, who is in charge of the school, told The Daily Star.
And this is how life goes on for the people AC Rabiul Karim left behind.
Translated by Anindya J Ayan