The general meeting of Mansur Ahmed’s party started. In the three day meeting some important decision were supposed to be taken on major national issues. On the inaugural day of the meeting Mansur Ahmed placed two new proposals. One was about the arrest of Akmal by the police and blanking out his news and another was the role of the party in curbing the rise of fundamentalism. The two proposals were included in the agenda amid applause from the participants. These two proposals were given utmost importance. This was beyond Mansur Ahmed’s expectation. He thought that the party would put these proposals in the miscellaneous item. But these two proposals got prominence in the agenda.
Mansur Ahmed placed many paper clippings on the rise of fundamentalism on in the country. He informed the meeting that reports on the rise of fundamentalism were being published everyday in the national dailies. ‘Didn’t party notice? What would be the stand of our party on the fundamentalists? Should we remain silent? We haven’t yet articulated our role or should we take a tough stand against them? Should we announce any programme? It is time that we took a clear stand on this issue. The situation is not favorable now. Too many concessions have been given fundamentalist which encouraged them to cross the limit. They should not be allowed to grow farther. Otherwise one-day, we shall be hostages in their hands. It is natural that if you play with the snake you get bitten one day. They will not allow anyone of us to survive. If we don’t resist, one day we’ll meet the fate of Afghanistan.’ Then he delivered an emotional speech about the arrest of Akmal. In pin drop silence he said, ‘I am speaking to you in such a moment when my eldest daughter is fast approaching death. Perhaps she will not survive for long. I could not give anything to my family. They made the only request to me. They requested me to free Akmal from the police custody, but I couldn’t do it. They had the idea that as a prominent politician of the country; my influence would helpful in freeing him from the police custody. I could not fulfill my responsibility to the boy who had lost his mother in early childhood. Today I have come to you with a sad heart. Akmal is my only nephew. He is a brilliant student of Dhaka University. He has been under police custody for more than a month, but none can say anything about his whereabouts. No one knows where he is. He is dead or alive. The police arrested him illegally and implicated him in a false case. We are not allowed to know anything. My younger brother is a top-level officer of the Police Department yet he could not collect any information about him. No one is co-operating with him. He has been cornered. He is being victimized only because he is the brother of a political leader. Today I am requesting the leaders present here. I have been in politics with you for the last forty years. I had many contributions to the party. In return I didn’t take a single favour. Today I shall make only one request to you. Please do something for Akmal and save my daughter.
After his address there was total silence in the meeting place for a few minutes. The listeners Mansur Ahmed delivered such a nice lecture only on a few occasions. Everyone allowed his lecture through clapping. Several other leaders supported him. They placed different proposals on what they could do. Other proposals were introduced in the meeting, but these two topics dominated the whole meeting programmes were announced on this two. A programme of non –cooperation was declared. This particular programme has to continue for the whole month March. Before that there would be mass contact in different districts of the country. Mansur Ahmed returned home as if he had conquered the whole world. His cheerfulness was glowing on his face. His wife was also cheerful after a long time. She was mildly surprised. She was thinking how a man could be so cheerful when his daughter was in the deathbed. It seemed very odd to her. At the same time she thought she would get some positive news about Akmal. Perhaps the good news about Akmal gladdened her husband. She wanted to know from her Husband, ‘What good news have you bought’? Certainly you have some good news about Akmal.’
‘I shall tell you about it of course; I shall give you good news. What kind of news do you want to hear’? Said Mansur Ahmed.
‘Of course you have got back Akmal in good health. I shall be most happy if you give me this good news.’ Said Nilufar Jahan.’
‘I can give you happier news then this,’ said Mansur Ahmed.
‘What else can be happier than the news of Akmal’s released. When my daughter’s life is at stake, Akmal’s release will help her survive. First tell me the news of Akmal.’ said Nilufar Jahan.
‘Of course I shall give you the news,’ replied Manzur Ahmed. But first tell me – which is more important to you, the country or the lives of Akmal or Shipra.
‘At this moment the life of my daughter and the question of Akmal are more important to me’ replied Nilufar Jahan. If I survive then the question of the country comes. If I can’t survive what’s the use of the country to me?’
‘What nonsense are you talking’ Mansur Ahmed reacted sharply. ‘If the country does not exist then what will be your position, of mine for that matter? Sometimes we have to sacrifice for the country. If according to you everybody thought about only his or her interest then why did the freedom fighters lay down their lives? They knew that they would embrace death any moment.’
‘The case of freedom fighters is deferent than everyone dreaming of an independent homeland’ said Nilufar Jahan.
‘Like you I also dream of a prosperous and golden Bangladesh, where peace and stability will and exist where there will be no terrorism, corruption or conflict. I want a country no person will die without honour.’
‘Your dream of a utopia,’ said Nilufar Jahan.
‘Why?’ Mansur Ahmed wanted to know. ‘Why are telling that this Dream will not be materialized. Why do you say so? Please tell me why this dream will not come true.’
‘I will not tell you, Nilufer Jahan said. ‘My answer may hurt you’.
‘No, I would not mind. Please tell me.’
‘It will not materialize for people like you, Nilufar said.
‘Why? What’s our fault?’ Mansur Ahmed wanted to know.
‘Because, politicians are opportunists. If the politicians were sincere and dedicated an even like that of 1975 would not have happened in Bangladesh. Some opportunist politicians joined the Cabinet at that time, remember? Who helped the autocratic government? Politicians like you joined the autocratic government.’
‘Yes, to a great extant you are right; Mansur Ahmed agreed, ‘To them personal interests were greater then national interests. But I didn’t do that.’
‘Yes. That’s true; you did not do that,’ agreed Nilufar Jahan. But other politicians did. Even today we find that the country has been hijacked from progressive politicians like you. Gradually the fundamentalists are reoccupying your country. They have gone to the roots. Can you throw them out?’
‘That’s why we have taken up new programmes.’ Said Mansur Ahmed. ‘Our programme of non-cooperation will continue through March.
‘Did I say anything which is not true?’ Nilufar asked.’
‘Why are you angry, my darling? I did not disagree with you. But what can I do? Those who compromised will always compromise. How do you except that all politicians will be patriotic? If everyone thought about the country there would have been no problem in the country. Those who want to develop the country are not allowed to come to power; they are victimized and are conspired against’.
‘What are the issues of this non-cooperation movement?’ Nilufar wanted to know.
The issues are ‘Contain fundamentalism. Stop harassment of arrested Akmal. I placed both the issues in the meeting, said Mansur Ahmed.
‘Your party has taken such an important decision on Akmal! Nilufar Jahan asked in surprise.
‘Why not? Akmal is a talented student. He has been implicated in a false case. Can a conscious political party remain silent in such a situation? I told the meeting, Akmal is my lone nephew. For him my daughter is fast approaching death. Everyone in the party seconded my proposals.
‘I am pleased to hear that you say.’ said Nilufar. How long will your movement take to gain momentum? How long will take to get the release of Akmal? Will my daughter live until then’.
‘Again you talk on self-centered issues your daughter may not survive. But if our movement is successful the country will survive.’ replied Mansur Ahmad.
’No, don’t say such things.’ said Nilufar. ‘Don’t be so cruel. I want to keep my daughter alive at any cost; I also want to get back Akmal.’
‘Nilufar, what’s happened you today? You never thought about yourself,’ said Mansur. In our life together you’ve had nothing but hardship. I tell it to everyone that without your sacrifice I couldn’t maintain my honesty. My boldness and honesty are your contribution. The status – I hold today is also your contribution.’ Mansur Ahmed consoled his wife, ‘Bad days will be over. Good days will be come. We shall live with dignity and honour.’
Nilufar listened to him with rapt attention. After a short while she left foe Shipra’s room.