In 1969, Nurunnahar became an army officer’s wife. In 1971, she was a Liberation War martyr’s widow.Their only daughter, cute little bubbly Gul Nahar Bashar (Panna), was just one-year-old and Nurunnahar was carrying a posthumous child. A three-year-old marriage, her life was full of love, happiness, and dreams. But life came to an abrupt halt for this happy family in the fateful year of Bangladesh Liberation War. The news, which no one ever looks forward to, arrived because the only certainty in life is its uncertainty.
In the month of May of the year 1971 Nurunnahar Bashar, the pregnant wife of BA6966 Captain RAM Khairul Bashar ASC, Officer Commanding of Station Supply Depot (SSD), Chittagong Cantonment, was under house arrest at the then 623, Dhanmondi Residential Area, Road No-20, Dhaka. The house belonged to Ayesha Zafar, younger sister of Captain Bashar’s mother Rizia Ahmed, wife of educationist Asir Uddin Ahmed. Pakistani military junta kept Nurunnahar under house arrest at her house. Captain Moazzem, an officer of the occupation Pakistan army, kept close watch on Nurunnahar Bashar and their baby daughter. He regularly came to the house and threatened her of dire consequence. As she was carrying a child, she needed regular visits to physicians. But the Pakistani captain did not allow her to visit even doctors or any hospital.
At that period her husband was being tortured in an inhuman manner at a torture cell at Dhaka Cantonment for fighting against Pakistan. In the month of March, 1971, forces of Baluch Regiment attacked the SSD in a bid to capture it as it was under command of a Bengali army officer. However, Captain Bashar and his soldiers successfully repulsed the attack and drove out the Pakistani attackers from the SSD area. In 1971, this was the first Pakistani attack at an army installation being led by a Bengalee army officer at Chittagong Cantonment. Since then, Captain Bashar became an arch rival of the military junta. He showed bravery on many other occasions. After the historic March 7 speech of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1971, he was the first Bengali army officer who hoisted the flag of independent Bangladesh atop the peram of his one-year-old baby daughter Panna. He pushed it around Chittagong Cantonment. Bashar’s act of bravery remains ever fresh in memory of Bengali army officers who are still alive and witnessed that event. Moreover when Pakistanis were bringing arms and ammunition in a ship named Swat, Bashar took part in building resistance against Pakistani forces so that they cannot unload those to kill innocent people of Bangladesh. A large number of students and youths too joined him in creating barricade on the streets of Chittagong.
At the torture cell, Captain Bashar faced a treason charge. Pakistani military junta proposed him to become a state witness against Bangabandhu who was then facing treason charge at a Pakistani jail in the then West Pakistan. As he straightaway rejected their proposal, Pakistani junta tortured him for over a month in an inhuman manner and committed a crime against humanity by killing him on May 29. The Pakistani captain (Moazzem) handed over the military uniform of the golden son of Bangladesh to Nurunnahar. But the military junta did not hand over her husband’s body.
Can you imagine the sufferings she had to go through in the hands of Pakistani occupation forces during her house arrest although she was carrying a baby? In such a situation, she gave birth to a posthumous child on 7 July, 1971, who is now Iqbal Bashar (Babu). Nurunnahar remained under house arrest till surrender of 93,000 Pakistani troops at historic Race Course ground, now Suhrawardy Udyan, in Dhaka on 16 December, 1971. After independence of Bangladesh, Captain Bashar did not return to the comfort of his home; to the warm hug of his wife and children; to celebrate life with the family. Time stood still. Looking back, life as a martyr’s widow had not been that easy for Nurunnahar. The vacuum remained. The silence haunted. She had to be strong as she had a one-year-old baby daughter and a posthumous newborn baby son. She took it up every day with the same courage as that of Captain Bashar. She learnt from her better half that it is always better to be prepared to face any situation. Being a mother to Gul Nahar Bashar and Iqbal Bashar and grooming them with the right attitude was a daunting task.
People upheld Nurunnahar’s status as a martyr’s wife, but when she looked into the eyes of her children, she could see a void she would never be able to fill in her lifetime. When she looked at herself in the mirror, she knew she had been loved in a way she would never be loved again in this lifetime. And yet she donned the role of the head of the family and guided their children. And she did that with a smile and pride for 21 years after independence of Bangladesh. We saw the true inner strength of Nurunnahar.
But she could not bear the pain of losing her husband for long. Ultimately, she passed away on 4 November, 1992 making the two children totally orphans. Like Nurunnahar, every army wife will vouch that in another lifetime, if she is given a chance to do things all over again, she would not hesitate to choose her soldier as her life partner again. Their children show the same grit as that of their father. They take pride in the fact that their father believed in the honour of the country. Their heads are held high when they say that for their father, the country’s liberation was the top priority and he died for this belief.