She walked barefoot most of her life as she would not step with footwear on the soil where her two sons and hundreds of thousands of Liberation War martyrs were laid to rest.
Till last year, she walked on the streets of Chittagong selling her own books to make ends meet. Probably this hard life finally took its toll.
Freedom fighter and writer Rama Chowdhury, an epitome of sacrifice and struggle, passed away early yesterday.
She was 82.
She suffered from diabetes and hypertension and other complications related to old age and recently fractured her hip bone after slipping on the floor at her home.
Rama breathed her last around 4:30am at Chittagong Medical College Hospital, said Alauddin Ahmed Khokon, her publisher and long-time companion. She was laid to rest at Popadia village in Boalkhali upazila, beside the grave of one of her sons.
Born on October 14, 1936 at her ancestral home in Popadia, she is survived by son Jaharlal Chowdhury.
People from all walks of life paid tribute when her body was taken to Chittagong Central Shaheed Minar. She was given state honour by a contingent of police.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in a message prayed for eternal peace of the departed soul and expressed condolences to the bereaved family. She recalled the loss and sufferings of the war heroine in 1971.
During the war, her husband left her as she refused to leave the country. On May 13, 1971, Pakistani army men burnt down their house and raped and tortured her.
None of her relatives or neighbours gave her shelter after her house was torched and she had to live in the open with three kids and often went hungry. Her two little boys, who fell sick due to living in bushes or in the open, died soon after the war.
After the independence, she took to writing and penned 18 books, including 1001 Din Japoner Padya, Bhab-Boichitre Rabindranath, Agun Ranga Agun Jhora and Ashru Veja Ekti Din.
Ekattorer Janani (Mother of 71) details her memory of the nine-month war.
As her struggle never ended, it could have been much easier for her had she accepted any of the offers of financial assistance, including the one made by Sheikh Hasina in 2013.
She preferred not to take monetary help from others.
When she met Hasina at the Gono Bhaban that year, the PM requested her to continue writing so that the people of the country could know the unknown stories of the Liberation War.
Rama was taken to the CMCH Freedom Fighters' cabin on March 25 this year after vomiting blood, reports UNB. She was shifted to the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital on August 25 as her condition deteriorated.
She was brought back to the cabin on August 29 as her condition improved slightly. Her condition worsened again on Sunday evening and she was put on life support, publisher Alauddin Ahmed Khokon said.
Rama obtained her MA in Bangla literature from Dhaka University in 1961 and started her career as the head teacher of Cox's Bazar High School the next year.
At the Shaheed Minar in Chittagong, her son Jaharlal said his mother dreamt of establishing an orphanage at her village in Popadia but failed to realise it.
Paying tribute, writer and freedom fighter Begum Mushtari Shafi said, “We are losing our war heroes like Rama gradually. There is not enough initiative to preserve their memories….”
Sharif Chowhan, coordinator of Gonojagoron Mancha in the port city, said Rama dedicated her life for democracy and non-communal values.
CPB leader Ashok Shaha said Rama never asked for any favour from anybody.
Chhobi Rani Roy, former staff nurse who was brought back from retirement to take care of her, said Rama used to introduce Chhobi to others as her daughter.
“I have lost my own mother,” she said.
Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, Social Welfare Minister and Workers' Party President Rashed Khan Menon, and Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives Minister Khandker Mosharraf Hossain expressed condolences.
Ain o Salish Kendra, Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, Bangladesher Communist Party and Left Democratic Alliance also expressed deep shock at her death.