‘The Unfinished Memoirs’ of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: The Making of a Leader
When Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was young, his father gave him one insightful advice—“If you have sincerity of a purpose and honesty of purpose, you will never be defeated in life”.Throughout his life, he never diverted from that course. And that made all the difference, helped him become an astute and compassionate leader and the greatest son of this soil, whowas destined to lead the nation to freedom. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is not merely a name but an inspiration to millions of youths of Bangladesh and the world as well. Many of us want to know how the man, whom Newsweek magazine once described as the poet of politics, mastered the nitty-gritty of politics and acquainted himself with different state-operating mechanisms. Reading between the lines of The Unfinished Memoirs of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, one might get some clues about it. As he states in the book (page 33): “Those among us who were young or were students or were progressive-minded took up these points and began to speak out on them. (Abul Hashim led the intellectual body at the beginning of Pakistan and Sheikh Mujib was very close to him along with Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy). We needed to realise Pakistan and it was important to spell out what kind of economic and political framework Pakistan would have once it was created. Mr Hashim (Abul Hashim) would spend hours indoctrinating us on these issues. He would come to Dhaka for a few days at a time and would sit down with party workers to discuss these issues. He would also spend a lot of time in the Calcutta Muslim League office for similar meetings. He would always keep in touch with party workers. I accompanied him to many such meetings.” The above-mentioned excerpt is a fine example of his growing up with the masterminds of that time. One famous advice of Hazrat Ali ®, who was one of the four Khalifas of Islam, is – “If you want to be a leader, serve others.” Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is the finest example of a serving leader. What great sacrifices he made in his beginning years! How passionately he worked and how lovingly he served people! Sheikh Mujib’s account of his journey to Delhi, Lahore and some other places makes revealing reading. One of the finest passages in The Unfinished Memoirs is the description of the Tajmahal. He visited this site for the first time while he was in Delhi as a Muslim League delegate at a conference. In his words: “It was so lovely! Even as I write this account twenty-one years later, the Taj’s beauty overwhelms me; I’ll never forget his loveliness”. The descriptions of some other places he visited as well are brilliant and enthralling. Those parts of this book where he wrote about many places can be used as a perfect example of a travelogue. How interesting and enjoyable to read these chapters as if we are also travelling with him! In this book he has also depicted how Muslims as a minority were ignored during the British rule. That is why Muslims had to struggle for their own land and Pakistan was the result of it. The same thing happened with us in the time of Pakistan. Though Bangalees were greater in number, the Pakistani junta, as a weak, fickle minority, deprived us of our very basic rights. We came away from Pakistan and established our own country after a bloody struggle. To make this independence and the sacrifices of the millions meaningful, we should take care of the rights of people irrespective of caste, colour, politics, religion and race. Let’s everyone become the petal of a beautiful flower called Bangladesh. In this unfinished memoir we will get a pathetic and heart-breaking description of Hindu-Muslim riots. And the role Bangabandhu played at that time shows us what a tireless worker he was. In the time of riots Bangabandhu would often load the rice and start pulling the cart to supply food to the refugee shelters. In one chapter, he wrote on the left leaning student organizations and their weaknesses: “There were a few left-leaning students who disliked the government. But the kind of ideas they tried to propagate offended the general students and the public. I used to tell them, ‘While ordinary people still like to walk, you all tend to have your heads in the clouds and fly. They do not understand your language and will not accompany you in your flights. You should only give the public as much food for thought as they can digest’. This made these communists speak out against me but they failed to attract the student world in any way.” Here we will see a mark of wisdom from a politician in his beginnings as a leader. Where the Left and the communists failed, Sheikh Mujib succeeded. He could understand every pulse of his people and could give them ‘as much food for thought as they can digest’. At last I want to say The Unfinished Memoirs is one of the greatest and finest inclusions in the history of Bangladesh. It is really a worthier experience to get some information, tales and insights from the very person who would later become the hero of tales, history and would be revered as the father of a nation. At the same it is a matter of shame that it is the best book on Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and had to be written by the person himself. We talk a lot and endlessly expound on ‘the spirit of liberation’ and get emotional. There are so many lovers of Bangabandhu but few workers who would volunteer to research on the liberation war and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as a person and statesman. There are some books and works on this but they are not enough. Maybe in future we will have some.However, let’s show our profound respect and tribute to the person who wrote this for us. We should also be grateful to Professor Fakrul Alam for doing this great task of translating it into English and making it available to the world audience. It is a book which should be included in the syllabi of schools and colleges. It can be easily included in a course on political personalities in the Political Science department; ‘Literature in Translation’ and ‘Bangladesh Studies’ courses in the English department; in Bangla and of course in the History department. In brief, The Unfinished Memoirs is the diary of an young boy slowly but steadily joining politics, the growing up of that young boy and his turning into an active, dedicated and hard working worker; and from worker to leader. Forty years after the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the best tribute we can offer him is to begin working unitedly to make Bangladesh free of poverty, hunger, corruption and communalism.
Bangladesh Study Forum (BDSF)