After the War | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 15, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, December 15, 2018

After the War

I arrived in Dhaka on the 10th of January. Pakistani occupation army had surrendered after an ignominious defeat in the hands of the joint forces comprising Mukti Bahini (Liberation War Army) and the Indian Armed Forces on the 16th of December 1971. The government of Bangladesh in exile came back to Dhaka from Mujibnagar soon after the surrender of the Pakistanis. I was late in returning home because I was asked by my superior Alamgir Kabir to hold fort until the equipment used by our English language department could be handed over to the Indian authorities.

Tenth January was also the date when Bagabandhu returned to Dhaka from the Pakistani jail, via London. I entered the city at noon and was overwhelmed by the presence of men, women and children all over the city. They were colourfully attired and in great mood of celebration. I don't remember seeing Dhaka so vibrantly colourful ever in my life of 24 years by then. It seemed as if the entire population of the city flocked in to the city streets from a protracted period of solitary confinement! The breezy mood was precipitated by the coming back home of the father of the nation from the Pakistani jail.

After spending some time with my elder brother in his Narinda residence, I decided to come out with the crowd on the streets. My journey through the streets of the city, some on foot and others on rickshaws did not have to be pre-planned. I just got along. The mood of the city carried me with it to wherever celebrations were happening. This lasted until the wee hour of the morning. Then I returned home exhausted and crashed on the bed. The next day my new life in my free country would begin with newer resolve.

But before that it would be in order to share with my readers the journey at the end of the war that I made to reach my favourite city of Dhaka from Kolkata. We had to report at the bus station at Kidderpore in Kolkata at six in the morning where a reserved bus would wait for us, the late returnees of the Bangladesh Government in exile. We were twenty-six in number saying 'good bye' to India for the time being. When we reached the bordering town of Bongaon it was about one in the afternoon. We had to force-feed ourselves to an early lunch for we did not have any idea if food would be available on the road beyond the border. We were not sure what was the state my motherland was in, post the gory war of nine months.

Between Bongaon and the Ferry ghat at Goalondo we stopped by in small tea shops. We were not necessarily thirsty for tea but then these stoppages provided us with the opportunity to talk to the common people. These little chats gave us enormous insight in to the life of the people of Bangladesh during the war of nine months. We came to know that life was far worse than what we were informed through our Government in exile but were surprise to find that the people of my valiant nation withstood all miseries for ultimate freedom. We took a bow to our brave people and proceeded towards the river Jamuna. We were also astonished at the enthusiasm of the common people who greeted us as heroes. By the time we reached Goalondo it was almost evening. We were not aware of the fact that the ferries across the river were no more there. So, the bus could not go across the river. We had to wait overnight and cross the river the following morning in country boats. We found a place to rest in the local Dak Bungalow.  There were no beds or other furniture. Therefore, we bought some jute mats from the local bazar and decided to sleep on the floor. I decided to go and sit by the river Jamuna flowing quietly in the darkness of night. The river had a lot to tell. And I was the lone listener.

 

The author is a renowned stage performer, actor & director. He is also a successful business personality.

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