[ This is a repost from last year ]

I grew up in the residential quarters in Sher-e-bangla Nagar around the Ganavaban. We used to play in and around the unde- construction Ganavaban, the future official residence of the prime Minister of Bangladesh. Later when the building was commissioned, we were not too happy as our free playground went off limit for us. Unlike children of these days, we were hardly confined to home, rather quite independently; we used to roam around the adjacent areas with gangs of boys and chatting with the guardsman posted at different gates of ganavaban. We also learned different kind of salutes from these guardsmen and were very much eager to test our salute skill on the dignitaries going through the gates.

On one Eid day, probably that of 1974 or 1975, our chance came. Ganavaban was open to public; anybody could go and meet the prime minister. We also went in, me, Hasan and Shiblee, all of between 6 to 7 years of age and easily entered the huge hall room and walked straight where bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was standing and greeting people. We went forward and promptly resorted to our much practiced salute. I still remember the affection mixed surprise in Bangabandhu’s eyes. We hoped we could do ‘kolakuli’ like others, but we probably were too nervous and was intimidated by his tall stature, and as smart Hasan showed the way, we all bend on his foot and did “kadam buchi”. Bangabandhu promptly shouted to some of his aid to feed us with ‘shemai”.

Not too long after, Bangabandhu was killed along with all his family members. I was immensely saddened. It is more than 32 years, we lost this legendary leader. I still cherish my memory of meeting him in person. So far he is the first and last ruler of Bangladesh I ever met in person.

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There was a tree lined road between our house and ganavaban. At the end of the road, a two story red residential building was part of an army base. A high ranking army officer lived there with his three daughters. After visiting bangabandhu, our confidence was sky high. So we decided to visit his home to “salute” him. After our door bell and salute, that officer also took us in and introduced us to his wife and daughters. This man was colonel Jamil. Most of us don’t know who he is. In 1975, he was the military secretary of the President. On august 15, when Bangabandhu was under fire, his sons were already killed, he desperately called maj general Shafiullah, who declined to help citing his inability. Bangabandu then called Col Jamil, who immediately responded to call of duty and was killed in Sobhanbag area on the Mirpur road, while trying to resort command and control on the unruly soldiers.

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Maulvi Sheikh Abdul Halim was the Imam of the mosque at Tongipara at Gopalganj who was asked to burry Bangabandhu without namaj e janaja and public viewing. But he boldly declined, on the face of the scary looking blood thirsty army personnel, to burry without namaj e janaja. About public viewing, he replied, “We can. But only if you declare him a `shahid’ (martyr).”

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Our ex-prime minister used to celebrated her 62nd birthday with much grandiosity. Even last year, she, with a queen Victoria kind of attitude, received greetings and flowers at her official residence. Chhatra Dal, the student wing of Khaleda’s party also celebrated the event at Madhu’s canteen with a 62 pound cake.

This year Khaleda urged not to celebrate her birthday due to flood. I do not feel flood is the only reason. It is historical fact that anyone will lose a certain amount of reasoning once he/she enjoys absolute uncontested power. On many fronts now she is trying to correct her misdeeds and failures.

Mujib’s 3 and half year rule was marred with numerous misdeeds also. But, unlike others, he didn’t get the chance to correct himself. His last 3 and half years should not be on our way to pay him his due homage.