Time went too fast. It seems like yesterday we were leading a peacefully happy life under the guidance of our father Humayun Kabir Balu. My elder brother Asif, sister Tumpa and me—the youngest—were spending the summer of 2004 with our father when he was assassinated on June 27. It’s been 15 years without our father.
A father is someone who protects, provides and guides his family. All these years, we were deprived of all of this, as well as affection and love from our father because of an assassination plot.
My father had to perform the duty of both parents as our mother passed away much earlier than him, and he performed his obligations with dedication and devotion. With perfection he had completed the responsibilities of a journalist, a businessman and a father. There are many things I remember from the times I had spent with him, and most times I feel he had a lot more to offer us, to help us become better human beings. When I look at people and how much affection they receive from their parents, I feel an emptiness inside of me that is inexpressible. Life could have been totally different if my father had not been murdered—our family wouldn’t have had to carry this scar for this long.
In the short time I got to learn from my father, the most important thing that I learned was the need to help others. I remember many people reaching out to him for help. He never let them leave empty-handed and was determined to serve them to the best of his abilities. He always taught us to be better people and asked us to strive to become better educated. He always used to say, if you don’t have knowledge you cannot help others. From very early in life, I was encouraged to read a great number of books, both by my father and elder brother, which helped shape my sensibilities and approach to life. My father had his own library at home and he used to guide us in choosing books to read. Many a time I had witnessed my father delving into his books. He used to maintain his diaries regularly where he described several historical events he had witnessed and wrote down his own perspectives. From 1960 to 1990 he maintained his regular journals from where I learnt how systematic and organised my father was. My father who belonged to a humble background was raised to become a political leader, a renowned journalist of the country and an entrepreneur through his own perseverance and struggles. Among my grandparents’ nine children, my father was the second eldest, and he had to take a lot of responsibility for his family. Among many things, my father was a person of sincerity and honesty. And among his colleagues and friends, he was well-known for his commitment in serving his motherland. He was a freedom fighter and a student leader in the city of Khulna during the independence struggle of Bangladesh. During the 1970s, he started his own daily, Janmobhumi, in Khulna and continued to serve the nation with his journalistic skills to bring about the best for society. For his contribution he was awarded the Ekushey Award in 2009 by the Bangladesh government.
Fifteen years without a father is not easy—for any of us. As his children we always try to seek answers—if our father were alive, things could have been easier or different. A father is the shield of any family.
But after his death, we had to face many harsh realities and challenges. We were too young to have been exposed to such realities. And it was too soon for my elder brother and sister especially, to assume such responsibilities. When I look back now and think, I realise that a great deal of happiness was snatched away from our family by this horrible incident. My father was brutally killed and 15 years later, justice has still not been served. The masterminds behind his killing have not been identified. From time to time, we see an urge for justice from different people and every year during his death anniversary we become hopeful that something positive will happen—but we are still far from that.
My father fought for the rights of the deprived people of the southern part of Bangladesh and to get justice for his colleagues who were killed. In turn, the call for justice for his murder was very frail. A weak investigation into his murder didn’t lead us anywhere. Still as family members of Humayun Kabir Balu, we believe justice will one day be served and the masterminds will be revealed. A person of his calibre and repute should get the deserved justice to prove the point that crime never goes unpunished.
Ashik Kabir is the youngest son of Humayun Kabir Balu.