Husband: Ishwar Jiban
Vill: Jele Para, Kanikhali Union, Natore
P.S. Natore Sadar, Dt. Natore.
Education: Read upto class VII.
Age in 1971: 25 yrs
Occupation in 1971: Housewife
Present Occupation: Housewife.
Q. Do you remember anything about 1971?
A. Yes, the elections were held in the year 1970. I voted for Sh. Mujibur’s ‘Boat’. Sh. Mujibur won. and then the war started. And my husband was killed.
Q. How did your husband die?
A. It was 2nd of the month of Baishakh. We had a rented house in Chowdhurypara. In the morning the landlord’s sister and younger brother called out my husband in order to take some medicine from him. He followed them. My husband was an office worker .He also practiced homeopathy medicine. He didn’t return till and I became worried. He said, he wiould be back soon and yet it was and he was still not back. I made some tea for him but he didn’t take it. Then I went to the landlord’s house. I had never been to their house before. I went that day. When I reached their house I thought the landlord’s mother looked unhappy.
Q. Was the landlord a Muslim?
A. Yes, he was a Muslim.
Q. What was his name?
A. His name was Shah Alam Choudhury. I told his mother, ’Aunty, my husband came here, I don’t
see him, where is he?’ She said,’ Why should your husband come here?’ I said,’ Manik apa(sister) called him saying that her younger brother was ill and he needed medicine and so my husband came. Then she replied rudely,’ Your husband hasn’t come here. You better go home.’ Even after she said this I kept on waiting. Soon Manik apa returned and told me, ’Bhabi, you go home, there is no need for you to stay here. He has gone for some work, he will be back soon. After the work is done he will return home. You can go home now’. Even then I kept on standing. I asked Manik apa, “Your brother, that is my husband, where has he gone?’ Then her mother scolded me, she said,’ I told you to go, why are you still hanging around? ’I returned home and stayed inside. The whole day passed, the dusk fell, even then there was no news of my husband. And then he returned. and I asked him where he had gone. Hs said he would tell me in a little while. He called me inside the room. Then he said, ‘They took me to the bank, and got checks signed by me for whatever money I had in the bank’. I asked who were those men and he said they were Nure Alam Choudhury and some others.’ And now they are demanding for your ornaments’ he said, ’I told them that the ornaments are with your father and my father. Then they took their names and addresses .I gave them wrong address.’
Q. Where did you keep your ornaments?
A. The ornaments were in our house. Before my husband finished talking, Manik apa’s brothers Madhu Mia, Dudu Mia and several others that we didn’t know came to my husband. They stayed in our house till about I had no more talks with my husband. We couldn’t take any food. The poor soul didn’t have anything to eat during the whole day. I thought he should eat something. I called him several times from the other room. But neither they let my husband to come out nor did they allow him to take food. Then at about they left and my husband came to our room. I brought him some hot milk to drink but he didn’t take it. The night wore on like this. We didn’t sleep at all. In the morning my husband told me to take whatever little money we had and my ornaments and carefully fastened them around my waist. He said we would have to runaway immediately from our house. And then he went to the toilet. We didn’t have a chance to talk at night because there were people all around. We were afraid our conversation could leak out to their ears. When my husband picked the mug to go to the toilet someone kicked on the door. I opened the door and there were military men right in front. of me. I rushed back terror stricken. The military swiftly entered the house and caught hold of my husband and dragged him away. Two of the military men were in front and two were behind my husband. I couldn’t utter a single word. My daughter, only four years old then, started crying in shock and walking behind her father. At this stage Manik apa picked her up to her lap. The military men took away her father. I couldn’t do anything to get back my husband.
Q. How old was Manik apa?
A. Manik apa was a school teacher. She was grown up. Then I took my two children inside the room and bolted the door from inside, and went near the window and was looking out side helplessly. It would then be around . And then Ankhi and a younger brother of Sufi came near my window. He was hardly about 14 or 15.yrs old. He said, ‘Boudi(sister-in-law) you run away from here immediately’. I said, ’Where could I go?’ ‘Any anywhere, anywhere’ he said with desperation. He insisted that I leave the house as soon as I could without wasting another second. I asked him if he knew anything about my husband. He said that the military had shot my husband. ‘You run away from here immediately’, he insisted, ‘a gang of Biharis will come in a second and they will harm you’. He dragged me out of the room and then he hurriedly left.
Coming out of room I was thinking where could I go. I was not familiar with the roads and then a couple of fellows came near me and said, ’If you want to see your husband, come with us to the hospital. I didn’t know where the hospital was and yet I was desperate and started walking towards the hospital with my children. I had no fear of anything on earth. Every one on the street kept me warning, ’Don’t go to the hospital, don’t go I didn’t listen to anyone, I was walking towards the hospital. My eldest son Jayanta was born in that hospital. My senses took me to the hospital. I found my husband, he was on a bed. He was operated upon. The doctor was standing in front of his bed. The doctor told me, ‘Boudi (sister-in-law) why are you here? You better go home’. When he said this my husband pleaded with the doctor to make some arrangement so that I could stay in the hospital. He also requested the doctor not to send me home. Then suddenly from nowhere some Bihari men arrived and 2 or 3 of them came close to me. It then dawned on me that I was a woman and it made me scared. I took my children and returned home. I found the landlord and his family members were there and also some Bihari men I had never seen them before. I didn’t see if anyone else was there. I entered straight into the
Thakur Ghar(Hindu Prayer Corner). I had some money (hidden) in the room. I took the money, a wrist watch, a torch light and then holding the hands of my children left the house. A man tried to take my baby from my hold. I didn’t know if he was a Bihari or a Bengali. I ran aimlessly and I can’t say in which direction or where I was heading for. I was terrified.
Q. Where did you go?
A. After I escaped I did not know where I was heading for. Suddenly an old man stopped me on the bank of a pond. He said,’ Take your baby son properly, his head is hanging downwards. How did it happen?’ I was without any sense. The baby’s back had received a cut wound, I didn’t know how it happened. The old man rubbed some sort of medicine on his back and put a bandage with a piece of cloth. And then he called in a rickshaw for me and asked,’ Ma (mother), where do you want to go?’ I told him I wanted to go to Hasla, my father’s home. He asked me who were there; I didn’t tell him that it was my father’s home. I said, I knew
some people there. Then the old man covered the front of the rickshaw with a piece of cloth. I was riding the rickshaw. On the way it was stopped many times on the road. Those men asked such questions as whether I was a Hindu or a Muslim and where I was going etc. The rickshaw puller cautioned me not to talk. He said he would answer on my behalf. He said, ‘if they ask you if you were a Hindu or a Muslim, you simply say that you are a Muslim. Don’t say anything more’.
Q. Didn’t you have Sindur (red vermilion powder) on the part of you hair, and Sankha(bangle made of shale) around your wrist?
A. The night before the military took away my husband he broke my sankha (bangle made of shale) and I never used sindur. Manik, about whom I have mentioned before, had told me not to use sindur. We continued our journey and reached Biprhalsa to my elder brother’s home. My brother hired a horse drawn cart and took us to my father’s village. I told my father that I had visited my husband at the hospital before leaving home. My father sent a man, son of one Jamal member riding a bicycle, to inquire about my husband at the hospital. He couldn’t find my husband. Within seven days my father was killed.
Q. What happened to your husband?
He died in the hospital. After my father was killed we went to
Q. After liberation did your family get any help and cooperation from the government ?
A. Yes we did. The government gave me one thousand taka and a letter. On our return we
lived for some time with my father and my brother. Later on we moved to a rented house. My brothers helped us. I did some private tuition. We had been through very hard times. Then my children grew up. My daughter is the eldest among them. The children also went through school. My eldest son is also a tutor. We some how managed to survive. Recently my youngest son died in a road accident. I have not yet been able to marry my daughter. She is working in BRAC (an NGO reputed to be the largest in the world.) Her name is Mala Rani.
Interviewer: S.M. Abu Bakr.
Date of Interview:
Translator: Faruq Aziz Khan