Liberation War in the pen of teachers and the role of our Middle Class
Zatra (The Journey to Freedom) by Shawkhat Ali , Rifel, Routi, Aorat by Anwar Pasha, Jahannom Hoithe Biday by Showkhat Osman are the three best novels written in the context of War of Liberation that continued for over long nine months. Thes three novels are written by three writers who have been teachers in their professional life. The main characters from the three novels are also teachers from three different levels. Sudipto Shahin of Rifel, Routi and Aorat is a university teacher, Raihan from Zatra is a college teacher, Gazi Rahman from Zahannom Hoithe Biday is a school teacher. The narratives of the three novels cover the experiences of middle class during the war of liberation and are told from teachers' perspectives.
The story of Jahannom Hoite Biday doesn't have any ups and downs, there is no conflict and no development of the characters or of the plot. Bangladesh became a hell after the attack and atrocities of the heinous Pakistanis on 25th March,1971. From this hell Mr. Gazi Rahman , a veteran school teachers decides to leave and takes shelter in India. On his way of escaping Gazi Rahman takes shelter in one of his students' home at Narshindhi. On his way to India, he experiences the atrocities and damages done by the Pakistani army who looted, plundered,butchered and massacred the innocent, armless people of Bangladesh. Youths take part in the protest and fights unhesitantly for saving the mother land. People from every sectors joined hands in fighting and protesting in order to liberate the motherland. But Gazi Rahman doesn't take part. He puts second thought on his own personality and repents for his inability to join the battle. This is the typical middle class attitude. Gazi Rahman loves his country but doesn't go to war because of his indecision and lack of courage. Bengali middle class are always found in hesitation, indecision and always opt to self development and self gaining. Self centredness is one of the central characteristics of Bengali middle class who are always found indulgent in their own pursuit of jumping to the upper ladders of the society. Gazi Rahman represents the Bengali middle class, who, even in times national crisis cannot decide to sacrifice. Jannom Hoite Biday was written in September 1971, and Showkhat Osman had been in India at that time. Gazi Rahman rfelcts Showkhat Osman, who also left Bangladesh during the war of liberation and kept writing sitting there.
Rifel, Routi , Aorat was written dealing with the brutal incidents occurred on March and April in 1971. Embezzlement, play of weapons, routi , the staple food of the Pakistani army, and their nasty lust for women - these are the themes of this novel. The narrator describes the cruelties that happened to Bangladesh on the black night of 25th March. The narrative makes an end to the story describing the incidents and accidents took place during June, 1971 with the hope of having independence. But, who knows he will die before the dreamt independence comes true. When his descriptions reach the hands of readers, he no longer exists. The central character of the novel is Sudipto, an ardent non- communal personality. He was a teacher at Dhaka University. He has to change his name in order to attain the job. He had to undergo severe insult in the recruitment board just because his name sounds like Hindhu. The atrocious Pakistanis fostered an unusual hatred for Bangla and Bengali nationalism. They targeted the Bengali culture and spirit of nationalism, but could not succeed in the truest sense of the term. They killed our intellectuals and destroyed many of our cultural and educational institutions.
Zatra by Showkhat Ali , a college teacher by profession has depicted the incidents that occurred in the capital city on the cruel 25th of March. Mr.Raihan , a college teacher has fled from capital city with his wife and two kids in order to save life. They fled and got shelter after walking for long and crossing the river Buriganga where some valiant, and energetic youths were providing shelter and services to the people who fled from the capital getting exhausted and retired. On the way, they meet Hasan Ahmed , a former student of Raihan, who has got injured in the protest of Iqbal Hall. On their way, they meet some of Hasan's classmates. Among them one is Lila, who takes care of wounded Hasan , feels for him and finally falls in love with the heroic character of Hasan . Hasan, an indomitable university student, even after getting seriously wounded doesn't leave his enterprise; he continues giving training to the young musketeers who are very much devoted to the love of the mother land. When the village was attacked everyone left Hasan but Lila did not leave him. She decided to sacrifice her life accompanying the valiant war hero Hasan.
Raihan has been given proposal by the young enthusiasts to lead the newly formed groups in protest, but he declines giving lame excuses. His middle class instinct doesn't let him decide and involve in the greater issue brushing the family or personal issues aside for the greater cause. He hesitates, he declines and later only sets for the capital in order to withdraw cash from bank. Even on the days of war, he thinks of the salary and withdrawing money from the bank. Mr. Fernandez, a Christian by religion appears to be one of his mates to Dhaka. Fernandez is a man of no guts, talks high and at the end proves himself to be a man of self interest. Middle class are the real expedients, they neither do think of the mass , nor think of the greater cause. Even in the days of national crises, Raihan, Fernandez and Binu, wife to Raihan, prove themselves expedient who earlier took all the advantages from the village enthusiasts who were trying their best to do something for the liberation of the country. Shaker,Siraj and other young enthusiasts showed how to lead from the front, but Raihan or Fernandez could not.
The writer is lecturer, Premier University