Endless love to Bangamata
August 8th, 2020 at 1:17 pm
Endless love to Bangamata

by Shoeb Chowdhury;

Great philosophers of the world said that a good mother can constitute a good nation. This reminds us of Bangamata Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib, life partner of father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Poet Kazi Quader Newaz once wrote, “The word mother is a very small one but it is the sweetest word in the world. “Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib was also killed with most of her family members on 15 August 1975.

Thus Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her younger sister Sheikh Rehana lost their beloved mother. We can recall a touching song, “No one is as close and loving as mother. One who loses mother, loses everything.”

It is said that behind every successful man, there is a virtuous woman. For our father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the woman behind his success was his wife, Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib. Today August 8 is the 90th birth anniversary of this great woman who had been with the father of the nation from an early age and had departed to the hereafter along with him.

Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib (also named as Renu) was born in Tungipara of Gopalganj district in 1930. Her early schooling was in a missionary school, followed by religious education at home.She lost her father and mother at the age of five and was groomed by her future mother-in-law. She was married to Sheikh Mujib at an early age and had three sons and two daughters.

Bangamata Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib received the then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi at Dhaka airport during her first visit to post-independent Bangladesh

The new generation, which did not see the war of independence or encounter such hardships, will never understand how and in what magnitude Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib had contributed towards the freedom of this nation. Sheikh Mujib was a born politician and had spent most of his life in jail.

This lady had not only looked after the family but had also lent her hand in keeping Awami League organized. During hard times, she never expressed her worries or dismay. Instead, she encouraged and frequently advised the leaders and party men on how to proceed in times of trouble.

During the Agartala Conspiracy case, Sheikh Mujib was in custody in the cantonment. There was an uprising of the people for withdrawal of this case and freedom of the captives. In order to tackle the situation, the then army dictator Ayub Khan proposed a round table discussion.

It was anticipated that Bangabandhu would go to Lahore for the round table conference on parole. There was also pressure from politicians like Ataur Rahman Khan, Abul Mansur Ahmed, Tofazzal Hossain, and others to sit in the meeting. But Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib, who was very much a housewife, vehemently opposed Sheikh Mujib’s release on parole and taking part in the round table discussion.

She was so firm on her decision that Sheikh Mujib complied, and refused to attend the conference. History indicates that this incident paved the way for the release of all the captives and revival of one man one vote system. These were mainly attained by the stance taken by Fazilatunnesa Mujib.

Agartala Conspiracy Case was withdrawn on 22 February 1969. At the same time Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and other political prisoners were released unconditionally. A huge reception was accorded to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his associates on 23 February 1969 on Racecourse Ground in Dhaka by a countless number of people. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was titled “Bangabandhu” by Tofail Ahmed on the same day.

Tofail Ahmed was Vice President (VP) of Dhaka University Central Students’ Union (DUCSU) who is a veteran politician, a Member of Parliament and former Commerce Minister.Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib was also known for her immense patience and her capability to recall any event of the past. Besides, she also had the ability to lead.

The killers of Bangabandhu and his family propagated the lie that Sheikh Mujib had a huge amount of money in local banks and immense wealth. However, even forty-five years after Sheikh Mujib’s death, a local bank discovered only a single bank account of the late president and found that it had a balance of roughly five hundred takas.

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Seikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib

His house had no luxurious fixtures and fittings. It was an ordinary man’s house. If Mrs. Mujib had desired, being the wife of a president, she could have anything she wanted, but she was not like that. It may be worth mentioning that Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib sold her jewellery for collecting the money for the Liberation War of 1971.

Understanding Sheikh Fazilatunnesa’s contribution to the nation is difficult for a person who was born in the post-independence period of Bangladesh. Looking at the chain of events that led to independence, a conclusion can be made that it would have been difficult for Bangabandhu to achieve freedom for the Bengali people if he did not have a lady like Fazilatunnesa Mujib with him.

After independence, Sheikh Fazilatunnesa’s role in building international relationships becomes apparent in her intimacy with Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India. Moreover, she had always been besides Sheikh Mujib when different world leaders visited Bangladesh.

Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib was an excellent homemaker. She groomed her children to be good citizens and worthy children of a great father. Not only that, she was also courageous, determined, painstaking, and a true and ideal daughter-in-law.

Forty-five years have elapsed since the death of this great lady. The nation has shown respect to this lady only by erecting a dormitory in her name in Dhaka University. This would have not been possible if it had not been proposed by the then Senate member Professor Dr. Abdul Mannan Choudhury.

However, we are longing to see that her contributions are recognized and to see the next generation pick her as their idol for she was a true friend of the nation, a philosopher, and a guide and mentor to the father of the nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Bangamata’s memory and legacy will pave the way for the accomplishment of Vision 2021 and Vision 2041. Mujib Borsho is going on. Recalling Bangamata in this auspicious time comes with a very special significance. In my view, a research-oriented public university should be established in Dhaka in the name of Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib for women empowerment and emancipation.

I convey my heartiest homage to Bangamata Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib on her 90th birth anniversary. Assassins killed her but could not erase her from our hearts. While ending up, a few lines from a song of Rabindranath Tagore can be quoted.

Tumi robe nirobe hridoye momo or

Secret silent you will thrive

In the seat of my heart

Like a deep, divine night

Aglow in moonlight.

My life, my youthfulness,

You will fill with glory

Like a deep, divine night

Aglow in moonlight.

Your lone, gracious eyes

Will be watching over me

Your canopy will be shading me

All day all night

My pains and dreams realized,

You will steep with fragrance

Like a deep, divine night

Aglow in moonlight.

Shoeb Chowdhury is a diplomat, entrepreneur, author and chairman of editorial board of The Asian Age.

(The article was originally published in The Asian Age newspaper)