Monzurul Huq is a Tokyo-based Bangladeshi journalist and author who has recently written a book that he describes as a semi-fictional memoir focusing on our journey towards the liberation war of Bangladesh seen from the perspective of an individual. The Book, entitled "A Story of My Time," is among the rare collections that tell the story of how the country was moving slowly towards the destiny that eventually led to the emergence of Bangladesh through immense sacrifice and suffering. The narrative tells the story of growing up at a time when Dhaka was still wrapped in the attire of a provincial town where people just started realizing the absurdity of being in a union with an absurd entity that intended to impose its dictate on the majority by using the religious card. Written in English, the memoir, through the description of early life of the author who belonged to an ordinary middle-class family of that time, and that of his circle of friends and acquaintances, touches masterfully other related aspects like the tragedy of losing friends, and disappearance of the pristine environment that was unique to Dhaka in those early days when people did have dreams of a better life in co-existence with natural surroundings and environment. However, at the backdrop of all that, a slow and out of sight preparation was on way for gaining the recognition of self-identity of a people whose desire to lead a peaceful life collided head on with the brutality of a regime devoid of rational understanding. This unusual but attractive narrative sequence makes the book unique and appealing to the readership.
Published by Cosmos Book in December 2022, the book accompanies illustrations drawn specifically on themes in line with the narratives. Bishwajit Goswami, the young rising talent of the artistic world of Bangladesh, has also designed the cover and overall layout of the book that made the publication a collectible item for book lovers in Bangladesh and beyond. A recently organized event at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan (FCCJ) focusing on the book had proved the assumption to be in touch with reality, as the audience at the end of the event were lining up for getting their copies signed by the author.
The Book Break event is a regular once or twice a month event organized by the Club focusing on important recent publications in English or Japanese. This was the first time in Club's history that a book published in Bangladesh received the attention of organizers of this unique book related event. The author, being a past president of FCCJ, is a known figure among Club members, though few had come across his identity as an author of books, since most of his published works so far had been in Bengali. This new publication written in English not only exposed that hidden identity of the author among Japanese and foreign journalists in Japan, but also is helping arousing their interest on the background of emergence of Bangladesh as an independent state.
The event was attended by a selected number of foreign and Japanese journalists in Tokyo and was addressed among others by the Ambassador of Bangladesh Mr. Shahabuddin Ahmed, eminent freedom fighter Lt Col. (Retd.) Quazi Sajjad Ali Zahir Bir Protik, and editor of Dhaka Courier, Enyetullah Khan, who is also publisher of the book. Moderated by Sri Lankan journalist Suvendrini Kakuchi, the event was wrapped up with a lively Q and A session where audience had shown keen interest about knowing in detail various aspects of Bangladesh, including the War of Liberation.
Ambassador Shahabuddin Ahmed, in his brief remark, praised the author for focusing on the preparatory stage of our liberation war through the story of his family and friends and highlighted the importance of remembering tragic part of our struggle for independence, the genocide that claimed the life of 30 million people within the short duration of nine months. Ambassador Shahabuddin Ahmed reminded the audience that the independence was achieved through that immense sacrifice of the people who were united under the leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Quazi Sajjad Ali Zahir, in his speech, reminded the audience of the genocidal aspect of our liberation war and highlighted the importance of focusing on past genocides in various parts of the world as a means of reminder to be vigilant against such atrocities. He also touched on few details of his own involvement in our liberation war as a supplement to the story that had been told in the book.
The publisher, on his part, told the audience what attracted him to make the decision to go for an expensive publication, instead for an ordinary one. He said that after going through the manuscript, he realized that the message of the book also needs to reach overseas readership as it talks about a part of our history which is not well understood outside South Asia. Since the book is also a well written one, he realized that a convincing way of attracting a wider readership would be to publish the book in a format and style that would be in par with international standard. This is why he had contacted the artist and assigned him to do the work. He said that he had reasons to believe that the book will attract due attention and the event at FCCJ was a convincing proof of his optimistic assessment.
The author described the background of writing a memoir that would also tell the story of his country's struggle to find her own place in history. As a representative of a generation that had first hand experience of going through all the ups and downs of earlier phases of struggle that culminated in the war of independence, he felt that a personal memoir written by someone of that generation cannot simply bypass those important episodes linked so closely to every one of that given society. The result was the semi-fictional memoir where the voids of memories are filled up by imaginations of the author that too are connected closely to the realities of the time. He thanked the publisher for taking care of every details so that book can become a representative work focusing on that episode of history in true sense. He also said that he had written the book in English as he felt that the message and tragic details of our liberation war needs to get due attention outside the country as well.
The event ended with a lively Q and A session where the audience, particularly those of the foreign press, had shown keen interest to know few more details of that glorious part of the history of Bangladesh and thus turning the session a lively one.
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