Monday, 4 July, 2022

BOOK REVIEW ► ‘Ekattar-er Sritikotha’

A Book Full of Memoirs of Liberation War

Reviewed by Anwar A. Khan

A Book Full of Memoirs of Liberation War

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This 400-page book published on the recently concluded Ekushey Boi Mela encompasses memoirs of four patriotic and valiant freedom fighters and vivid accounts from fifty victim families of our Liberation War. I have found an exception of this invaluable book published by Creative Workshop and Cover designed by Khalid Ahsan. The contents merit the quality of the book. I highly recommend it to all readers – both old and new generations of people to read it to better understand the cruel birth of Bangladesh after a nine-month long war in 1971.

The Pakistani unjust war waged on us – on the Bengalis - was foiled 51 years ago. Yet, we live with its consequences every day.  For those that did not serve, the nature of the war and the effect on our people irrespective of religions is made knowable other than in an anecdotal sense. 

The book provides a path to understanding much better than the dense text of academic histories and analysis. As in the chronological recount of battles, the lodestone for every victim family and every participant in the war, each reported event is short and fully comprehensible. For a large book, it is surprisingly intimate-analogous to what war really is to both the victims and participants.

Millions of our citizens experienced the war close and on a highly personal basis. This book provides a rare clarity to that experience. Bangladesh, writ large, was an unbroken series of chance and deliberate encounters of brutal consequence to the victims and participants. Those experiences, and the faces and feelings of the experienced, are admirably displayed. 

While the “battle is the thing,” to paraphrase Shakespeare, the participants spent endless hours and days recovering from the last encounter and preparing for the next-which always came as did the months of experience - extremely bad. 

The book admirably fills piteous feelings for those fallen heroes and families of victims in our hearts.  Most often, the time between battle and the camaraderie and shared experiences is of greater meaning as time wears away the edge and polishes the good.

This book makes it clear the 1971 war deliberately thrusted on our people by Pakistan army strongly backed-with by the abominable Uncle Sam was far more brutal, personal and consequential-issues that we see every day amongst the families of victims and those patriotic people who fought so valiantly against those terrible forces. This book is their grand story.

The book takes the readers through each month of engagement, the rationale for our operations and a review of virtually all the fighting units that participated.  The simple recounting of valour awards for our youth, in a specific combat event, provides a much better understanding as to what really occurred in the names of the countless encounters that still resonate after 50 years.

For those that were there, Bangladesh is highly personalized.  This book makes that point.  The many faces, the many names, …provided, put a luster on the experience that belies the ultimate outcome.  The book puts no glory on war but clearly places the grace on those that were there. 

 War is an unjust and evil thing.

Any war leads to a catastrophic humanitarian toll. If I recall the Pakistani war in 1971 waged against us causing widespread suffering to our people, my eyes well-up every time!

This book has an unusual direct recount of what was the experience of Bangladesh and our people in 1971.

It artfully demonstrates the great camaraderie of the deployed as well as the fear, hope and angst of the individuals - a common phalanx of feelings for all who have been seriously shot at. Altogether, the totality of the work and the degree of clarity for the reader is quite striking.

 For those that were there, this is enlightening.  For those that were not, it is highly educational.  The book does a great National service and should be one of the invaluable books examined by anyone wanting to know what Bangladesh’s freedom struggle in 1971 was really all about.


The writer is an independent political analyst and book reviewer