A historic jail diary of a great leader
15 Aug 2017, 19:45 | updated: 15 Aug 2017, 19:48
After releasing from the jail, the very first words that Italian polymath Galileo Galilei said were, ‘And yet it moves.’ The line was a reference to the prior assertion he made on the earth, orbiting the sun. The great astronomer’s statement was not received warmly and it was his statement that had sent him to the jail. But even in jail or even after getting released from the jail. The scientist and scholar did not compromise with his values, to be more abridged - the truth that he discovered with his own eyes using telescope which of course others did not witness.
English short fiction author Neil Gaiman said, ‘A book is a dream that you hold on your hand.’ While reading ‘Karagarer Rojnamcha’ (‘Diary in Jail’), the second autobiography of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the eventful story of Galileo came into my mind. Bangabandhu was being punished for what he believed and even his jail days could not make him stop from believing his morals and values about politics and from dreaming an independent nation. Bangabandu's entire life bears testimony to his enduring love and infatuation for Bangladesh and Bengalis.
The graceful, spoken terrain of the narrative will create a centre of attention to readers of both works immediately. The striking opening of the historic prison diary instantaneously sets the tone of the book: life in prison is altogether a changed sort of existence from home life: ‘Those who have not been to the jail, those who have not experienced life in jail, do not know what jail is.’
The 332-page book contains the historical description of the great leader’s prison life during the Pakistan regime from 1966 to 1968. The founder of Bangladesh passed almost one-fifth of his life in jail owing to autocratic Pakistani rule. Bangabandhu used to write his daily political and other activities of his time and maintained the practice even while in jail. Pakistan government seized six diaries of Bangabandhu when he got released from the jail. Four of them were returned later.
In 2009, after the Bangabandhu’s eldest child Sheikh Hasina-led government came to power, the remaining two diaries were recovered with the help of Special Branch. These two diaries are published under one cover with the title, ‘Karagarer Rojnamcha.’ Three manuscripts made place in the book. Bangabandhu named it, ‘Thala bati kombol/ Jelkhanar shombol’ (A plate, a bowl and a piece of blanket/are the only things a prisoner gets).
In 1966, Bangabandhu presented the Six Point Demand and in the first three months of that year, he was arrested for a total number of eighth times and secured bail. He was again arrested in May. The book is about his everyday life of that time period. Karagarer Rojnamcha divulges Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's amiability, plainness, simplicity, friendliness and hospitality and concern for others.
He used to listen to the songs of others prisoners in jail, did gardening, planted rose plants and took care of it. These everyday works of the leader are depicted in the book. Once a chicken inside the jail died and he wrote about it, ‘The chicken had some kind of seriousness in its way of walking.’ The line shows how much of a pure hearted person he was along with his immense scrutiny power. He even wrote about the birds living inside the jail. He penned about the nests that the crows had built, the disturbance done by the crows, when his attempts to scare the crows away failed, he wrote, ‘It was the breeding time for the crows. Where would the go if I destroy their nests?’
In her insightful and discerning preface, Sheikh Hasina retells the wonderful story of the twice-found manuscript. His eldest daughter Sheikh Hasina writes, ‘The book will give a vivid depiction about the struggles that we had to go through since the language movement to finally win the freedom.’ She further inscribes, ‘Bangabandhu was confident that his people would be free, and the self-belief was so sturdy that it could even be seen in his write-ups. I don’t know if any leader of the world was ever so confident about ensuring independence of any nation like Bangabandhu.’
The tumultuous political condition of the regime, position of Awami League, dictatorship of Pakistan government and their ruthless repression over us were portrayed in the historic book as well. While going through the book, we can able to undergo the emotional state of prisoners meeting their children. We would experience Bangabandhu’s love and affection to his children and his countrymen.
Many autobiographies, novels and poems have been composed inside the jail or during the period of banishment by several renowned writers and political leaders. Jawaharlal Nehru wrote ‘Discovery of India’, John Bunyan’s ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’, ‘The Age of Reason’ by Thomas Paine, Nelson Mandela’s ‘Long Walk to Freedom’, Hugo Grotius’s ‘On the Law of War and Peace’, Bertrand Russell’s ‘Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy’ are some of the many popular books written inside jail. Maxim Gorky penned his world renowned novel ‘Mother’ during his political exile. Karagarer Rojnamcha is certainly a noteworthy addition to the genre of prison literature as well as the history of Bangladesh.
Sheikh Hasina suggests in the preface of the book that, readers will get the clear concept about jail reading the book. They will get to know about the prisoners closely, their lifestyle and why they commit crimes.
The book has significantly depicted his non-stop thinking in any situation about his people for a moment even while living behind the bars.
Book Name: Karagarer Rojnamcha
Writer: Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
Published on: March, 2017
Publisher: Bangla Academy
Cover: Tarik Sujat
Price: BDT 400