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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Sadia Afroze Ali

Sadia Afroze Ali:
An apology to Bangladesh

Hum kay theh'ray aj'nabi itni mula'qaa'touN kay ba'ad
Phir banayN gay aash'na kitni muda'raatouN kay ba'ad

Strangers we remained despite meetings aplenty
friendship will develop after how many (more) rendezvous?

Faiz Ahmed Faiz at Dhaka on his first visit to Bangladesh


Dear Ulloo:

Surprised? Must have been 25 years. Back then, when we corresponded regularly you and I were both single.

Yesterday, while searching for something I can across some pictures. One of them showed a show-cased, demure, bejeweled dulhan. I forgot what I was looking for and retreated to this PC to capture some thoughts.

Occasionally when such urges overwhelm me, my partner in crime M ensures I am left alone. (Yes I am married and have three, no two sons now.)

The only ones I recall from those days are Apa and Nafisah Bte. Mohammad besides yourself. When I move to Alexandria Va. in ‘71 I kept up the correspondence with you at Dhanmondi R.A.

You introduced me to Jeanette or Janette U. from DC. Cute, vivacious and intelligent. Once she visited my townhouse when Pervez was staying with me. He 'drooled' after her. Don't know where she is now. We only met a few times before I moved North. Half the time we would talk about you.

We continued to exchange correspondence after Bangladesh came into existence. But not with the earlier intensity and warmth. Things were left unsaid. Then we got married. And gradually our correspondence faltered and then ceased altogether.

This photo has rekindled those memories and some.

Without going into didactic or dialectical discourse, let me say unequivocally, I apologize.

I could start with Mohammed Ali Jinnah's Paltan Maidan, Dacca speech in '48 declaring Urdu to be the national language of Pakistan, and continue with the policies of successive governments' blatant discrimination against the Bengalis. I could cite the Der Spiegel report of April 19, 1971 describing attacks on the villages by Pakistan Armed Forces, including use of napalm by the Air Force. Or I could describe the injustices perpetrated by the 93rd Infantry Brigade at Mymensingh, or the 53rd at Feni, or 117th at Comilla, or 91st at Rangmati, or 202nd at Sylhet, or 313th at Maulvi Bazar, or 27th at Brahmanbaria, or 205th at Khetal, or 34th at Nator, or 107th at Jessore, or 314th at Khulna.

I could go on. But that is not the point I want to make today.

I was a young student who had no part in the crimes committed. You and I were both in the same boat. Yet I want to own up to that responsibility as mature people must.

I render this overdue apology on my behalf. And if it were in me, on behalf of my people and my government for all the injustices perpetrated since '47 and continuing up and until the birth of Bangladesh. To you and through you to every single Bangladeshi.

with love & profound regards,



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