By any standard you may care to mention, my dearly departed mother, Anjuman Ara Jamil – Amma to me - was an extraordinary woman. Having lost her husband - the valiant Brigadier General (posthumous) Jamil Ahmed who walked into the arms of certain death as the only member of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s security apparatus who answered the call of duty on that dark dawn of August 15, 1975 - in her 30s, raising their three daughters as a single mother was far from easy. Their fourth daughter, our baby sister, was born 8 months later.
While dealing with that personal tragedy, Amma devoted herself to looking after all of us. She had never imagined that she would be involved in business, but the situation and circumstances demanded it, and she summoned from within her all the acumen and instincts to become a successful businesswoman. In 1977, she founded the construction and indenting company, ‘Modhumoti Traders’, which mainly worked on military construction contracts. The company also worked in tandem with Bangladesh Agriculture Development Corporation (BADC), where she provided equipment and services from the Kirloskar Group of India. She had become one of the first women entrepreneurs of Bangladesh, and her determination and devotion allowed her to reach greater heights.
Similarly I can also assure you that my mother never had any intention of going into politics, till the people of Kushtia, where she was born and spent her early childhood, started insisting that she become their representative in the national parliament. When they finally managed to convince her, she took it up with dedication and devotion that we in her family witnessed, often with a sense of wonder. As a member of parliament, she saw it as her duty to work for the people, the community and the country.
She was a very strong and fearless woman with a kind and benevolent heart. Through her business ventures and her political career, she never forgot that she was a mother first and was able to handle every aspect of life with equal parts of care and compassion...She carried herself with a great sense of authority yet grace. She was the epitome of elegance.
As this year’s ‘16 days of Activism’ campaign for women’s empowerment coincides with my mother’s 8th death anniversary on November 29, it gives me immense encouragement and energy to know and reflect on how Amma worked tirelessly for women and young girls in her community. She always had the vision to empower women and set up programs and infrastructure in Greater Kushtia to help underprivileged women. Her time as an MP was marked by its focus on improving the infrastructure in her constituency, promoting primary education for girls, sanctioning the Lalon Complex, and extended amounts of time rehabilitating ‘Biranganas’ and war-widows.
She was very proud to be a mother of 4 daughters and overjoyed by the arrival of all her grandchildren. Her engagements in multiple spheres could never diminish her role as a mother in the lives of her daughters, nor as a grandmother to all her grandchildren. She is deeply loved and sorely missed by them all. As another year without her irreplaceable presence passes, I pray that we may continue her legacy from this generation to the next. Please keep my Amma’s soul in your prayers.