‘Of Blood and Fire-the Untold Story of Bangladesh’s War of Independence’ is a novel based on the events taken place during the period of the war of independence of Bangladesh . Basically it is a diary writing of the famous author Jahanara Imam . The novel mostly focuses on the day to day events taken place during that period. The author had lost her son ‘Rumi’ and her husband ‘Sharif’ during that period due to the events. The story excilently shows the Bangali peoples participation and enthusiasm towards the independence war .
The novel contains a good picture about the events during that time in Dhaka city and the sector-2 which is quite an evidence of the brutality of the Pakistani army and the heroic resistance by the liberation force . It can also be reffered as a evidence of anti liberation East -Pakistan groups(like-Rajakar,Al-Bodor ,Bihari etc ). Because the author tried her best to collect the authentic information available at that time,as she stated-“I like to see all the newspapers everyday.
It is the only way to extract the truth from various sources. “
As the novel is written as diary by the author so the story moves forward by the dates . The author started to entry her writing from 1st of March . From the the begining the author seemed to be well conscious about the facts of Bangladesh liberation movement and it’s legal cause and background . Her story rotates around her family and they were not less conscious about the facts of liberation movement . The author and her husband ‘Sharif’ had two sons named ‘Rumi’ and ‘Jami’ . Rumi was just admitted to a engineering college in Illinois, America during that time and Jami was a student of class ten .
Rumi was so much politically conscious and broad minded than his age on the other hand Jami was as a younger version of Rumi. From the start of the diary entries we can see that in the days of early march,1971 the movement of independence of Bangladesh was a common demand of the people of East Pakistan. As the movement proceeded more people from every sector of the society started to participate willingly. At that time definately it wasn’t a political movement rather than a mass people’s dream of living freely.
Like Rumi said-“Things are no longer confined to any party, Mother. Now the fire has spread everywhere. (Of Blood and Fire-2nd ed:. Page-10) ,Which he quoted from great poet Tagore. On the 3rd march, when Sheikh Mujib announced the launching of the non-violent civil disobedience movement things started moving too fast and with every meeting,every procession ,every speech the mass people started to believe that there independence is coming and they are going to do everything to achieve the ultimate target. This was indicated by the conversation of Rumi and author . Like Rumi said-“… … , but events have a momentum of their own like a waterfall. When a waterfall rolls down a mountain no power can stop it .
The people in our country are rushing towards an inevitable end ,like a waterfall . I don’t think they can be stopped. ” (Of Blood and Fire-2nd ed:. Page-14) . This is how the movement proceeded by armed struggle in the later part of 1971. Rumi author’s elder son seemed to be the most enthusiastic person among the family about the liberation movement of Bangladesh. His readings of Marx, Engels, Mao Tse Tung’s book made him more conscious about politics, social system and the world system . His prediction about buying time for aggresive attack during the early march proves that.
He also possess a great knowledge on literature . This is why he used the quotations of great poets . Rumi is quite a obedient son of his parents . He grew up with the freedom of thought and lessons of honesty & truthfulness . This is why he didn’t hide while joining the leberation force. Like-“I didn’t do anything behind your back , Mother . Dad knows everything . .. …. “(Of Blood and Fire-2nd ed:. Page-27) . He didn’t do anything odd or didn’t even forced to get permission rather he tried to convince the author about joining the liberation force. He showed logic and won the battle of mind .
He said -“Mother, if in the present condition you insist on my going , I might go . But all my life I would live with a guilty conscience. I might come back from the United States with an impressive degree and become a renowned engineer but I would never be able to hold my head again. Do you want that mother? ” (Of Blood and Fire-2nd ed:. Page-66) . This is how he got the permission of joining the liberation force . Rumi struggled a lot to join the liberation force . Rumi compiled his first attempt to cross the border on 2 May. But he had to come back for adverse situation and became successful in his second try.
He took training for the war in Melaghar, Agartala under Sector-2. It was the sector supervised by Khaled Mosharrafand Rashid Haider. After his training he came to Dhaka to join the Scorpions, a group that conducted major guerrilla operations against the Pakistan Army. His major target was to bomb the Siddhirganj Power Station. Rumi operated some of closing encounters including the one at Dhanmondi road . He did his job with great bravery like he said to his mother -“You know what our sector commander Khaled Musharrof said? He said the country doesn’t need living guerrillas.
It needs blood stained martyrs. So my dear mother . we all are mentally prepared to become Martyrs. “(Of Blood and Fire-2nd ed:. Page-153) . His determination was clear in his words-“have you heard the saying that one can see the ocean in a drop of water? I have not seen the world as you did. I may not have enjoyed or suffered as you did but by now I have already tested the necter and poison of life. I will have no regrets if I have to go. “(Of Blood and Fire-2nd ed:. Page-166) Rumi’s younger brother Jami was in class ten during the time of liberation war .
He was greatly influenced by his brother. But he was not allowed to join the liberation force like his brother because of his tender age . Sometimes he felt quite alone in absent of his brother. During the period of continious curfew he was quite isolated. In the childhood he used to fought with Rumi ,but as the time moves on Rumi became his hero . At the end when his father and brother departed he was quite mad at the Pakistani army who cost him his loving one’s . Like he said -“They will not get away with it ! They took my brother away.
They killed my father ! I will not spare them ! ” (Of Blood and Fire-2nd ed:. Page-242) . This statement only proves his unability to do something effective. But his dream was fulfilled at the end when he was appointed as the chauffeur of freedom fighter Major Haider. Sharif was a quite character than others . He was a civil engineer . At the primary stage of liberation war he was a supporter of the liberation movement but as the days passed he became involved with his wife by giving shelter , financing , providing intel and goods to the freedom fighters.
He kept his feelings inside and didn’t share it freely to anyone . He gave his childs a proper vision of patriotism and fatherly love . But the events in 1971 like genocide , torture on his family and lose of his elder son was too heavy to handle for him . Which lead him to a heart attack and cost his life. The events started rushing in the later part of 1971 ,when guerilla operations were a day to day activity in Dhaka city and other parts of the country. Rumi was quite a famous among the freedom fighters because of his daredavil attitude in the operation on Dhanmondi road no 18.
After his operation he became an icon to his fellow warriors. He stayed the night of 29 August 1971 to his house, the night when Pakistan Army caught most of the guerrilla fighters based on their information from an unknown source. His father, younger brother and a cousin were also arrested with him. They were first taken to the intersect of Mirpur RoadandElephant road. There they were lined up in front of a military jeep and intelligence officers identified each of them by throwing headlights on the faces.
Among all Rumi was separated and took to a military vehicle while Sharif with other arrested family members got in their family car. Sharif himself was driving and was accompanied by two armed military personnel, was following the military convoy. Later Rumi told to his father in detention that in that vehicle Rumi was accompanied by almost all the freedom fighters he fought with days prior to the arrest. However from Elephant Road they were taken to Ramna Police Station where a new series of identification took place.
From there the military convoy headed to Dhaka Cantonment, this time too Sharif was driving as a part of the convoy though was one of the detainees. In Dhaka Cantonment army tortured both Rumi and others seriously and kept them in a small room somewhere near or inside a hostel in the cantonment. There they were accompanied by many other victims of that night including artist Altaf Mahmud, Abul Barak and Rumi’s colleague Azad, Jewel and others. In that room Rumi explained to his brother Jami that army already are fully aware of his operations and he and his colleague Bodi took the full responsibly of the attacks.
He advised Sharif and Jami to give the same statements and to tell the army that the family (of Rumi) were completely unaware of his activities . Saying that Sharif & Jami was released later. It is thought that Rumi was exicuted with his friends Jewel ,Azad and others on 4th September . The author was shocked by the events on 1971 as she lost her son and her husband. But she never gave up her faith on the liberation movement . She helped the freedom fighters till the end of the war . She showed the spirit of her myrtyr son and husband in her later life
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