Friday, 24 September, 2021

AUGUST – the Month of Trail of Tears in Bangladesh

Anwar A. Khan

The month of August depresses me frightfully. I don't even feel like talking. And when I don’t talk, that's a sure sign of being stagnant, standing still and without current or circulation. I am more depressed in August than at any of the other eleven months in the year. Something very bad happened to our country in the August of 1975 that brings up memories every time the cycle appears each year. August is certainly depressing for us because we lost Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Father of our Nation, in this month.

The month of August turns into a griddle where the days just seethe with deep anger or resentment. I didn't know whose life would be blighted, but these aureate days were few. They wouldn't have much time together. August is the only month the name of which is an adjective. But is August venerable for us? There is nothing majestic or revered about it. It is sultry or asphyxiating and fainéant.

Historically, August is the deadliest month in Bangladesh’s history. It is the messenger of misery, a hollow actor. Every year, it seems as if August lashes out in volcanic fury, rising with the din of morning traffic, its great metallic wings smashing against the ground, heating the air with ever-increasing intensity. This is the month of August. It is hot, steamy and wet. But the airs that hover in the sky were all asleep on that night of August 15, 1975.

As the days went on, the thought of some evils-doers started weighing heavily upon my frame. Those, coupled with the oppressive heat and humidity of my country, only seem to heighten the misery. I am pitiful to have an opportunity to speak on August 15. I thought much about it myself, and I was faced with the shock, and undeniable truth of our nation’s founding father’s brutal murder. I don't think anyone really thinks about tragedy until they are actually faced with shocking news or until a horrible thing happens and everything changes.

I was then a senior student of Dhaka University and lived at Sergeant Zahurul Haque Hall, when I heard Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib who spoke for his people, was lying motionless on the floor of his own house with bullets by some brute military men. He was the greatest among the millions of martyrs and freedom fighters who sacrificed everything for the country’s independence, welfare and progress. This was the biggest tragedy that the Nation faced after we achieved our hard-earned independence under his leadership. Thus this tragedy occurred and we came to know that the well-built, tall man was felled on the ground.

The news of his assassination spread like wildfire. We remained dumb-founded. Slowly, they signified that Mujib was dead. This was the worst and saddest happening in our life. I wept. Many people wept. There was darkness everywhere. That darkest night was not allowed to be published by those cruel goons. That day was the saddest day of my life, it was like the end of everything for me and it really broke my heart and spirit to live.

I tried to avoid myself from crying, but the more I tried, the more I wanted to and the more flashes of memories of him came towards me. It was really hard for me to let go, harder than I can imagine it would be during the time Bangabandhu encountered those thuggish criminals. How desolating to think that this man could have made such an impression on the world he left behind. How sad that they had not thought enough before snatching away his life for good. But we miss him tremendously, which at times is difficult.

The truth finally comes out. They get publicly defamed. I can honestly say I am hardly hit by a celebrity death quite like Bangabandhu's death. The dark night he died, let that, along with his decades of classics of politics inspire us all, to go very far outside the box. He just embodies everything he wanted to be as a man of his own people.

I remember that day like it was yesterday. Ranking the comparative degree of sadness associated with deaths is a strange concept, yet this one stands out prominently due to the murder in his middle age, especially when considered with old people dying of natural causes. The reason that this is the saddest is simply because it was the most unexpected. Such a terrible loss of such a brilliant and kind-hearted person!

There have been some very sad losses, but given what human values Mujib stood for and the brutality of his death, I can't put into words how tragic this is. His murder is the bloodiest day in Bangladesh’s history. I can’t say that any other moment in history was worse than that day for many people. In August, the most horrible and tragic event conspired to happen in the history of Bangladesh. When this happened, the countrymen were crying like the world was going to end.

I don't know how someone could hurt a country like that. They would have to be just evil! It is pathetic! It is one of the biggest disasters in history, an incident that no one anticipated. But it is not a sunset. We lost him, but we did not lose him as a model in our life. I would like to say that each one of us should endeavour to keep forever alive the spirit of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the spirit of those who worked to keep his vision alive. We should be really grateful to all of them.

Dear Father, you were brilliant and brave, and you were stronger than you knew. You had a wondrous soul and a beautiful heart that was able to give so much love to those around you. And people were so happy to have been able to be on the receiving end of this outpouring of love on more than one occasion. You were a wonderful human. Quite honestly, you are one of my most favourite humans. My heart is filled with so much love for you. But you have gone and our hearts are broken. This horrible emptiness is never going to go away...he is gone, nothing can fill that void.  Not only was our innocence robbed by this tragedy, but now we have sadness in our lives that is just not right...that we lost you.

This was clearly the worst. I was so scared! I did not know why. Then I thought the world was going to end... I just hope no one would allow something like that to happen again... A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows. The moon is at her full and riding high, flooding the calm fields with light. Ralph Adams Cram has said, “The pursuit of perfection always implies a definite aristocracy, which is as much a goal of effort as a noble philosophy, an august civil polity or a great art.” August, please be good to us all.


The writer is a columnist.