Dhaka, Bangladesh || Thursday, 25 April 2024 || 12 Boishakh 1431
I remember…..
S. Wasif Islam
Published : Monday, 25 March, 2024 at 6:10 PM, Update: 25.03.2024 6:33:44 PM, Count : 2515

I remember…..

I remember…..

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 mothers 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 businesslike Capt. Haider
And the hundreds and thousands of nameless
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,
organizing 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, incredulous

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 Dhanmandi,
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.

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