To Atiq a freedom fighter | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 16, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:32 AM, December 16, 2019

To Atiq a freedom fighter

I remember before the war,

The hazy summer days,

Warm monsoon nights, nothing to worry about,

Life drifted on its carefree ways

As the earth hurtled on its regulated orbit

Drawn by the blazing sun

And encircled by the shy moon

I remember the night of March ‘71

When all hell broke loose on 70 million

The army rolled out on the streets of Dhaka

Morning found the dying and the dead

The streets were littered with Bengali blood

Innocent blood

Once again was bled

I remember, Khokon Bhais blood soaked,

Bullet ridden body

Perhaps not knowing why he died

I remember, at the funeral

The silent vow, that sprung deep inside me,

“Khokon Bhai, you will not have died in vain”.

I remember, the fear in my mother’s eyes

When I told her I must go,

“Good bye” she said with hurt and tears

Yet so brave, in lonely despair

There was a glimmer of hope

As our youth and armour

Trudged across the border

To return stronger, as warriors

I remember the hectic training days

The brilliant Khaled Musharaf,

The business-like Capt Haider

And the hundreds and thousands of nameless

Faceless

Comrades in arms

I remember the brotherhood,

As young and old,

Man and woman

The child, the sick,

The villager and the city slick,

All united together in an unwritten bond

So strong so vibrant.

I also remember the treachery,

The hate,

The plunder and the rape,

The agony, the pain,

The nagging fear of being picked up,

The torture stories,

I remember, the selfish Bengali,

Unwilling to part with some money

For the cause,

I remember most,

The failures, the hopelessness,

the helplessness

The abyss,

I remember the hiding of arms underground

At the back of our house,

The army raid in the early hours of dawn

The month long hiding at Moni’s house

I remember how brave my mother and her friends were

Cooking for hungry freedom fighters,

organising stitching of kathas,

By the hundreds, as winter set in

Making money available whenever we needed it,

Encouraging us to go on, when all seemed lost.

I remember being arrested

With the route map to the border and beyond,

Somewhere in my pockets,

And being saved, only by the Help of the Almighty.

I remember, the trip Atiq and I

Made to Karachi,

to forge alliance with the sympathetic Sindhis

to study the possibilities of an hijack

I remember how we rescued Khaled Musharaf’s daughter

Badal, Shopon, while Chullu Bhai drove his car,

The attack at the power stations of Dhaka

Alam, Maya and the rest

While I hurled the incendiary bomb,

And the darkness lit up, a symbol of freedom

I remember the planning of raids,

Yes, the elimination of traitors,

Arranging medicine and patriotic doctors

For the sick and the wounded,

Locating hideouts in the city

As more and more groups moved in

I remember, the 4th of December

As the sky grew bright with flares,

And the air

Was pierced with air raid siren

While the earth shook with bombs dropped by the Indians

Who had joined the fray,

Yet the bombs fell on friends and foe alike.

I remember the morning of the 16th,

We drove triumphantly

to the Intercontinental Hotel

The banner of Free Bangladesh unfurled in my hands

People looked on, bewildered, incredulously

Victory, Joy Bangla,

It was victory day,

Everywhere people greeted us with tearful,

Thankful gaze

I remember the tears rolling down

From the cheeks of Pakistani officers

As they laid down their arms

Before the Indian army brass

I remember the celebration,

At our house in Dhanmondi,

When Col Khaled Musharaf came with so many muktis

And freedom fighters,

Also present were, friends and relatives,

and of course children running around.

The sun had come up

Once again in Bangladesh

Today, I remember the dead

Who were with us during those nights and days,

Ashfi, Rumi, Bodhi, Khokon Bhai, Azad, Col Khaled,

Moni, and so many more,

We salute them, for what they have given us

And pray for their departed souls

I remember the living too

Who may read this,

And remember along with me.

I remember on victory day, we were full of hope,

Proud of our freedom,

Proud of our people

Goodbye, we thought

To corruption, to greed, to petty politics,

To injustice, to quarrels and strife.

Yet after so many years hence,

What have we gained?

At the cost of blood and tears

Of our friends and fellowmen?

Perhaps we were naïve then

We had not won a war

We had only won a battle

So the war goes on,

Against the treachery

and the hate,

The corruption and injustice,

Hypocrisy and vice.

 

The poem was written in 1975

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