The idea of death is feared by many but it is not in our control – perhaps only to a certain extent. Various life decisions we make play a big part in determining our fate. Much like the death of my grandfather, Dr. Azharul Haque (1940-1971). During the short time he got to practice surgery, he'd already done way more than half of us will ever have done by 31. From donating his blood, to tending to members of Mukti Bahini during the Bangladesh Liberation War. Despite several warnings, he continued to serve them in his private chambers. In this world, we have a tendency to take things for granted. In this case, he took his life for granted as his occupation ultimately resulted in his death.
The funny thing about death is that you never see it coming, Though I am sure he went in aware of the consequences and danger his involvement with Mukti Bahini would bring. On November 15, 1971, a curfew was imposed around his area. Dr. Haque, determined to go to work, called an ambulance to take him there. He was simply waiting for the ambulance along with his neighbour and fellow coworker, Dr. Humayan Kabir. The tree which he used to lean against, where he would smoke cigarettes, was where Al Badr members spotted them. They were 'arrested' and taken God only knows where, only to be found the next day outside Notre Dame College with a boot mark on Dr. Azharul's throat.
From time to time, I wonder what his last few moments were like, though I'm sure getting beaten to death while blindfolded by members of Al Badr must have been more cruel than any of us could ever imagine. But did he worry about his six-month pregnant wife he was leaving behind? Or his unborn child?
My whole life I've been angry at the world, for taking a life that could have saved hundreds, a life that could have provided for a family, been a father figure for my father, and later on someone for me to look up to as well. But my role in this plays little to no significance. When I was asked to write this, I asked myself, why me? Why not my grandmother or my father whose pain can't even be compared to mine?
Some of my fondest childhood memories are those of my grandmother telling me stories about what it was like to be loved by this man. I've heard more than enough stories to tell you with great confidence that he was a man of honour and bravery.
Unfortunately, not having him around meant I wasn't taught many things. I didn't grow up to have a big heart or a brilliant mind like him. Instead, not having him around resulted in me often feeling the need to protect those around me from the outside world. Despite our loss, I'm not writing this to tell you how unfair life can be. Instead, I want you to be grateful for all that you have, understanding change can come even when you're least expecting it to. I write this not only to mourn the grandfather whom I never met but to appreciate the people that provided for me and my family in his place. The people who taught me how to love in this harsh world, and the people who went out of their way to make sure my childhood wasn't as miserable as my father's.
As of now, a monument now rests in front of Notre Dame in the two doctors' memory where his body along with Dr. Humayun Kabir's was found. His story is in history books, being read to children in elementary school. His name can be found on the walls of major government hospitals. Stamps have also been published in his name.
No amount of Wikipedia pages or photos in history books can compare to the glory I feel to be able to step out into the world and tell everyone what kind of man my grandfather was. I'm proud to not only share this story but to pass on the blood of the man that was lost for our country's freedom.
Shashoti Haque is a student at University of Toronto, Canada. She is the granddaughter of Dr. Azharul Haque.