'Amader Joy Shunischit'
My Father: S M A Rashidul Hasan

Roquaiya Hasina Neely

Yet another year has passed by since our independence. It's been 35 years! Through nine months of struggle and bloodshed we emerged as an independent nation. The war had caused much pain and sorrow and grief to our people. I lost my father just two days before the liberation of our nation. Millions of people came out of their houses and gathered on the streets of Dhaka despite all their grief and loss on 16 December 1971 to celebrate our long awaited victory. I could hear the people's voices and feel the festive air but couldn't bring myself to join them. I was only twelve then so I didn't really understand the meaning of independence, the importance of liberation and the great sacrifice my father had made. I understand now and seeing the present state of our country I very often wonder was it all worth it?

My father S.M.A. Rashidul Hasan was a teacher in the Department of English at Dhaka University. Although he was a teacher of English he greatly respected our mother tongue and our Bengali culture and tradition. So among his clothes we have always noticed more panjabi and payjamas than shirt-pants. He loved music. Tagore songs and poems were his favorite. It was to his wish that I started learning songs from a very young age of six. Whenever I learned a new song he would sing along with me. Today I am a national TV artist. My third album has just been released. How delighted he would have been if he were still here!

My father was an easygoing, simple, jolly person but he was also politically conscious. He always seemed discontent and disturbed with the discriminatory treatment of Pakistani rulers with Bengalis. When Mr.Jinnah declared Urdu as the state language he was very shocked and told my mother that people of this country would not tolerate this. They will protest. His outspokenness and open support for the movements of students and political parties against the Pakistani rulers turned against him. It made him fall into the fire of anger of the pro-Pakistani teachers. So later when the liberation war started, they gave his name to the razakars and his name was included in the list of intellectuals they had targeted for killing. On 20 September a few men from the occupation army came and took him away but with the help of a friend of his he returned 12 days later unharmed. But on the morning of 14 December just two days before independence they took my father away. That was the last time we saw him. After 22 days of his disappearance his decomposed body was found in Mirpur killing ground along with the dead bodies of the best sons of this soil. My mother was asked to identify her husband from decomposed bodies. How hard was this for a wife? My mother sacrificed all kinds of enjoyment and good things in life for her beloved husband. She engaged herself in raising her three children that her husband left behind. Do the citizens of the new generation know of the hardship of the lives of such widows when they lost their only earning member of the family ? Do the citizens of new generation know of the gruesome killings of the intellectuals by the collaborators? Have they been punished for such a heinous act? What you see now in this country? The people who opposed our war of liberation and tinged their hands with blood of our intellectuals are now in power and ride government cars hoisting the flag of Bangladesh!

During liberation war he wrote the events of every day in his dairy. He was a keen observer and good analyst. I have learned many unknown events from my father's dairy that I could not have found from books. I have come to know from his dairy how much he was moved by the resistance movement of our freedom fighters. I am quoting a portion from his poem he wrote at that time,

“ Ekhon amar desh amar osru jole
Amar desh amar ontore
Amar desh aaj bikkhubdho shagor Bondor shob bheshe geche
jahaj hetha bheshe bheshe fere
Othoba jahaj dube geche
Duburira udhao howeche.” 5 June 1970

My father believed that we would definitely win. My mother was often very nervous and scared about what was about to happen. But my father consoled her and often told her “Dekho amader jai shunishchit”.

And just two days after his disappearance we really did win. We emerged as an independent nation--ready to take our place as Bengalis in the world. The creation of Bangladesh was a triumph of the democratic spirit and resolve of the people who create a homeland in which they could speak their language, embrace their culture, and live in dignity free from religious bigotry and colonial exploitation. And yet that proud history of the people of Bangladesh has been lost in the maze of opportunism. 35 years after, instead of working united for fulfilling muktijuddher-chetona our sweet land is continuously being bathed with the blood of her own children, fighting amongst themselves for pretty personal gains. We all have forgotten muktijuddhha and muktijuddher-chetona. We have forgotten the sacrifices of 30 lakh martyrs and their families. Not a bit of patriotism survives within our hearts. It's a shame for our nation.

My humble request to all citizens particularly to the new generation, please do not forget our war of liberation and the people who sacrificed their lives for the creation of Bangladesh. Please know it, and let the future generations know it too. It is a shame not to know the history of the nation.