Bangamata never broke down once while facing all the obstacles that kept coming in her life, Sheikh Hasina has said
Bangamata Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib throughout her life had supported the political activities of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman like a shadow.
From conveying messages to the party workers when Bangabandhu stayed in jail or during any big decision, Bangamata always gave him the right advice at the right time.
At the same time, she played a major role in raising children with strong morale.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina mentioned her mother at various times in her speeches as the “real guerrilla” for conveying Bangabandhu's decision to the party workers from jail, with the political foresight she had, while risking her life during difficult times.
In 2018, while reminiscing at a discussion held at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre on Bangamata's birthday, Sheikh Hasina said: "My mother Bangamata Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib was the real guerrilla."
The prime minister also said she learned to protest from her mother.
“My mother was such a guerrilla that the Pakistanis could not catch her. They could not even write a report against her. She was the real guerrilla,” the premier said.
On Saturday, it was the birthday of Bangamata. She was born on this day in 1930 in Tungipara, Gopalganj.
On the night of August 15, 1975, she too was martyred after being brutally murdered by the killers of the Father of the Nation.
She was unique in her behind-the-scenes role
Recalling the contribution of Bangamata at different times, Sheikh Hasina in her speech said how her mother had played a leading role from behind the scenes in implementing the ideals of the Father of the Nation.
The prime minister said: “The strong morale in my mother that I saw during the nine months of the Liberation War was unimaginable.
“Her husband was taken away by the Pakistanis. Two sons went to fight on the battlefield. She was under house arrest with her three children and all sorts of communication was completely disconnected. But my mother did not lose her morale.
“Bangamata was a source of inspiration, strength, and courage for the Father of the Nation. Apart from providing emotional support to her husband, Bangamata's advice had been helpful in making many decisions,” Sheikh Hasina continued.
Message conveyed without eye contact
Whenever the prime minister speaks of her mother, her voice breaks down, and sometimes her eyes become bright with pride.
My parents had a very good understanding with each other,” she said in her speech.
“At times, even I had to convey my mother’s advice to my father, when he was not around. Even if my father saw me in the crowd, he would understand that there must be an urgent message from my mother,” Sheikh Hasina further said.
“The Father of the Nation wrote his 'unfinished autobiography' with encouragement from my mother. And the diaries of the Father of the Nation were preserved by Bangamata, which was later published in book form,” she further said.
Detained Bangabandhu received messages in jail
The prime minister, during her speech on her mother's birthday in 2018, said: “My father used to get messages and information of the partymen whenever my mother visited him in jail. My mother used to convey the direction of my father to the leaders and workers.
“When my father was imprisoned, my mother gathered money to run the organization as well as the family. My mother was not an obstacle but rather was helpful in any of my father’s work. My mother never looked for her own or the family’s happiness.”
Reminiscing about Bangabandhu's imprisonment, the prime minister lamented: "My father was not among us for two years in a row."
Sheikh Hasina in her speech said: “Bangabandhu had spent a big part of his life in jail. In his absence, Bangamata had shown great skill and courage in carrying out the responsibilities of the family on one hand and arranging cases on the other while organizing the party and conducting the movement.”
Not parole, Bangamata wanted unconditional release
Sheikh Hasina in her speeches often recalls the context of the mass uprising of 1969 while highlighting various contributions of her mother.
“The Pakistan military government took Bangabandhu from the jail to the cantonment during the Agartala conspiracy case. He had no whereabouts for six months, and we did not even know if he was alive. Later, we had the opportunity to see my father for the first time in court.
“Then, the Pakistani government threatened my mother that if Bangabandhu was not released on parole, she would become a widow. My mother’s reply was, ‘There will be no release on any parole. There will be no release without an unconditional release’,” Sheikh Hasina added.
The prime minister went to the court and informed Bangabandhu about her mother's decision.
“I saw many Awami League leaders at that time and they asked, ‘What kind of a daughter are you? Do you not want to see your father get released?’ They told my mother that she would be a widow in the future.
“My mother then in a hard voice asked, ‘What will happen to the other 33 accused in the case if Bangabandhu is released on parole?’ At that time Bangabandhu rejected the offer of parole. In a mass uprising, the Pakistani government was forced to release my father unconditionally,” she further added.
March 7 speech: You know best what to say
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina once spoke at a discussion organized by Bangladesh Awami League on the occasion of the historic March 7 at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in the capital, and there she mentioned the context of how the March 7 speech was made and that Bangamata had a big role in this regard.
“When there was a lot of discussion about what Bangabandhu would say in his speech on March 7, my mother played the biggest role in that crisis. I have seen my mother at various junctures, she could have made the right decision at the right time.
“During the speech on March 7, my mother told Bangabandhu, ‘You have fought for people all your life. You know best what to say. Say what you have in your heart.’ Bangabandhu exactly did that and spoke from his heart,” the prime minister said.
On September 1, 2019, while addressing a discussion meeting of the National Mourning Day organized by Chhatra League at Ganabhaban premises, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said: “When my father was killed at our house at Road 32, my mother was told by the killers to go from there, my mother told them she would not go anywhere. ‘You killed him (Bangabandhu), finish me too. I will not move a foot from here’,”she said.
“My mother did not make any plea to the killers to let her live. Like a hero she stood in front of the bullet and gave her life, everyone should remember that,” she said.
Describing the eviction from Minto Road, the prime minister said in a speech how they were evicted from their home on just 14 days' notice. “And how steadfast my mother was during those difficult times. I still remember, we were very young and Kamal and Jamal were still toddlers.
“One morning at the house on Minto Road we woke up and saw mother sitting quietly on the bed. I was very young. Police came the night before and took my father. When I asked my mother about my father she said, ‘Police came and arrested your father last night.’
“This was the first arrest in front of her eyes. We were evicted from the house on just 14 days’ notice. Where would mother go? She only came to Dhaka recently and knew very few people. When my father was minister a lot of people used to come to the Minto Road house. But that day all was empty! My father's cousin and one of our grand uncles came.
“After searching for a house, one was found in Nazirabazar where mother took us. In this way, one blow came after another. But one thing I will say is that I have never seen my mother break down,” Sheikh Hasina added.