The rains are late this year, but I’m not complaining. The monsoons is my favourite season. Tagore’s lyrics rendered beautifully by Jayati Chakraborty. Get a big screen,. Good speakers. Sit back and enjoy.
It was 18th May 1976. My sister Najma (Apamoni to me) had just given birth to her second child. It was coming up to my final exams at Liverpool University. The hospital in Fazakerley was about ten miles away. I’d used all my holidays and every weekend, working as a labourer at the building sites of Lockwoods Constructions in Preston, St. Helens and Bootle, to save money for my overseas student fees, and for my keep. There had been little extra time to study during term and there was a lot of catching up to do. The bus ride would have taken too long and been much too expensive. I used to live in cheap digs at the Catholic Chaplaincy of the Liverpool University and pedaled out from Brownlow Hill with my Radio Shack bike radio churning out ‘Living Next Door to Alice’ by Smokie on full blast. Apamoni’s firstborn, Mowli, had been born on the 24th March 1971, the eve of the genocide in Bangladesh. The exams and money woes that accompanied Sofi’s birth were insignificant in comparison.
Jabbar Bhandari was a freedom fighter. He fought with Kader (Tiger) Siddiqui in Tangail. ?He now makes a living as a Baul Singer.
A Freedom Fighter Sings of 1971 from Shahidul Alam on Vimeo.
He had also conducted operations in Kaderpur and Haluaghat. Now much of his time is spent around Suhrwardy Uddyan where the deed of surrender was signed in 1971. ?I found him slowly walking along the photographic exhibition on 1971 we had orgasised. He would stop and peer intently at each photograph. I asked him what he was looking at. ?I am looking at myself he said. It is me you have photographed.? ?I asked him what he thought of Bangladesh now. Whether he still dreamt of the Bangladesh he had fought for. ?He replied wistfully, ?It?s good we are free.? Then he paused and said. ?Sometimes I dream. Sometimes I don?t.?
I have never seen him since.