The debt we forgot to repay

It’s the month of December again. Green and red flags are selling like hot cakes, Victory Day special programmes are being broadcasted, and wearing national colours is cool once more.

But do we have that spirit inside us? If Victory Day is so special, why do people remember it only once a year?
Bangladesh will be 36 years old this year. Yet, even after attaining maturity, we remain a broken and confused nation. For starters, we do not know our history. Ask any average teenager about the difference between Victory Day and Independence Day and you will most likely meet with a befuddled look. Yet he will flock to the Shaheed Minar or Sriti Shoudho with bouquets on the 16th of December, waving at TV cameras casually while passing by. What is the point of coming to commemorate something you know you have no knowledge of, and consequently, no respect for? History is, one might argue, truly that- history, and there really is no point churning out old memories, is there? But consider a person with no memory of his past. His existence will only be zombie-like because he has no knowledge of who he is. Knowing our own history is therefore essential for our own improvement and intellectual growth, because the journey to maturity can never be fulfilled without it. Arguments that one can never retrieve Bangladesh’s muddled history after a series of distortions seem futile. There are dozens of sources waiting to be checked only if one bothers to find out. The drive must come from within, because being dependent on other sources for information might result in never finding out the actual information at all.

We have no business being happy-go-lucky while the nation’s best war heroes suffer lives of life of ignominy and abject poverty. While recently surfing TV channels, i currently came across a muktijoddha describing his ordeal. He has no family and is blind due to lack of proper healthcare. The only way he sustains himself is by begging. People spit on him when he says he is a muktijoddha, perceiving it as a cheap gimmick to earn more money, so he feels ashamed to even share his true identity anymore. He ended the interview by saying that it would’ve been far better had he died during the war like many of his comrades than live to see this day.

This is not an isolated case. There are hundreds like him,hundreds trying to survive on a meager income when they should be living like royalty instead, seeing that they have given us a new country, freedom and something to live for. The worst thing is that they don’t even want much except a little respect, and we can’t even give them that. It is imperative that we find out the true picture.

Go over to the Liberation Museum, look at all the irrefutable evidence and think. A programme called ‘Muktijuddo Protidin’ is aired on Channel-i where there is elaborate discussion on the liberation war. I’m sure there are many other television programmes which also bring to light the true story of our glorious victory. Surf the internet. There are dozens of sites and books out there with authentic statistical data and unheard narratives of the victims or their families. Read Jahanara Imam’s ‘Ekatturer Dinguli’ to view the war through a martyr’s mother’s eyes. Only after educating oneself can one hope to repay the debt that we once promised of and to fulfill the vow of building a new country with our all. It is time to rise.

By Anika Tabassum

The Daily Star- Rising Star