Sender: Ataur Rahman Khan Kaiser. Chittagong. July 17, 1971.
Receiver: Oysika A. Khan. 17 Ayesha Khatun Lane, Banshalbari, Chandanpura, Chittagong.
I am writing this letter for the day, Inshallah, when you will learn to read and understand things. Your young heart must be filled with abhimaan and heartache wondering why your abbu does not come to see you. Mamoni mine, how shall I ever explain to anyone the kind of pain that shoots through your abbu when he thinks that it is your birthday today and yet he cannot hold you close? Whose guilt is it, whose crime—that he cannot take you into his arms? This you shall understand and fathom when you grow old, mamoni. Because that day this crime of his, will no longer be considered a crime. The people of this nation are also criminals like your father, because they have been demanding their rights. All criminals—universally loved leaders, writers, artists, journalists, intellectuals— criminals since they love this country. For the exploiters and invaders, nothing is more criminal than this emotion. The only punishment for such a crime is, death. Lakhs of people have left this country in order to escape this punishment. Your father has no other option but to move from one village to another, seeking mountains and forests in distant places, so that he is not shot at or hanged. And today, even if your abbu craves for his mamoni, he cannot shower kisses on her. The picture of a little doll that lingers in his mind’s eye is the one that he loves and kisses. And that is your abbu’s only solace.
As I perform namaaz, at every waqht, I pray for you, for your happiness and safety. I pray to Allah Rahmanur Rahim that he keep both you and your ammu safe. Mamoni, your ammu has written saying that you have learnt to speak now? You say that your abbu used to sing Joy Bangla, do you? Inshallah that day is not far when your abbu shall once again sing Joy Bangla to you. If your abbu is not there your ammu will sing that song for you. Your ammu has also written that when she scolds you, you say you will send her off! Do you know, your ammu does not know anything. She only suffers for you and me. Even if you send her off, you will see, she will come back to you again. She cannot stay without us.
If your ammu cries or suffers, don’t tell anyone mamoni. Just be with her. By her side. Cry with her. And love her—that is her only solace, all right? Many thousands of kisses to you mamoni.
Sender: Kadbanu Aleya, Sonatola, September 28, 1971.
Receiver: Muktijodddha Abdur Razzak, Kumarkhali, Kushtia.
Accept my salam and love. You have sent a letter with Jahan Bhai. After reading the letter I have destroyed it, fearing the razakars. The razakars are guarding our house day and night, 24 hours so that they can catch you. On the day your second child was 6 days old, I received your letter. You had written that I should be alive to tell others your proud story, that you will win back Bangladesh. I kept running, bearing a pain that defies description. I still remember the day I came from my abba’s home to yours, it was July 16th. You were not home. I realized you were frantic and troubled and had gone underground for a few months. You do not, did not tell me anything but I understood that you were mentally preparing for the war.
Once I reached my abba’s, Babu was born—that was July 21st. I was still hoping that somehow you would be there. Some miracle would happen. But instead this letter arrived. Tomorrow I shall go to my in-laws’, that is, to your place. All around razakars have created hell. At least here I used to get your news through Jahan Bhai, but I don’t know what lies for us there. I still hope you are alive. Hence, I write.
Your two and half year old older son always carries the flag and shouts Joy Bangla! The razakars chastise him. My abba tried to shut his mouth with his hands but he keeps on struggling, pleading—leave me alone Nanu. And then again with renewed vigour screams—Joy Bangla! The razakars keep on threatening abba that the moment your son-in law arrives, your house shall be razed to the ground and all of you will be taken into custody. Due to all this, abba has decided to send me off. My only doya to allahtalah is that you return safe. One day, one day. After you have freed our nation.
Sender: Shahid Ashfaqus Samad Uttam, Patgram, Rangpur. August 25, 1971. ( died fighting West Pakistan army in direct combat at Raiganj in November 20, 1971.)
Receiver: Tauhid Samad, Current Address- 42 Dilkusha, Dhaka.
First let me tell you that I am writing to you from a liberated area of Bangladesh. The Indian border is almost 18 miles away from here. I am breathing the free air of a liberated place and by God it feels good. Liberated this place 2 weeks back. It is now around 10 o’clock in the evening. I am lying in my bed inside a hut. My bed is a wooden platform dug in about two feet below the floor level. The earth raised all around me to give protection from the bullets and shells. One lamp burning with minimum light. My ‘friends’ the Punjabis from Pakistan are only 600 yards away. The sons-of-bitches have not shelled on today/might, but I have a feeling they will anytime now. They usually do at this time. The idiots did not let us sleep last night. Fired about 40 shells. Couldn’t land a single one on us—some marksmanship! So, we fired about 50 shells today on them. Intelligence report received one dog killed! These kind of funny things happen quite often actually. Because once you are inside the bunker you are safe. Unless one unlucky one lands right on your lap—which is very rare.
I am writing to you because after a long time I remembered the good old days. My friends, family and above all, Dacca. You know Tauhid, these days I don’t even get much time to think about the old times. I really don’t know when I shall get my next chance to write to you. The place I write to you last is about 150 miles from here.
How’s London? Must be very big and glamorous. If I can dodge their bullets and stay alive I’ll see you there. Fix a nice little place for me, will you?
Did you write to my home? Please take a little more trouble. Ask them to write to you about their welfare so that you can convey me. It is six long months that I have no news of them.
How is Rukhsana and everybody at home? Give them my best. Please give my best to Najmul too. Answer fast.
[Selected from: Ekkatorer Chithi (Letters of Seventy-one). Published in Bangladesh by Prothoma Prokashan, Karwan Bazar, Dhaka.
Translation of the first two letters: HUG. The last one is originally written in English.]