Marriage is predestined. However, our union was abnormal and historic.
For some time I was cut off from Calcutta. I even did not inform Nimmi about my injury intentionally. I knew she would be awfully perturbed. Although I refrained from informing her, she could easily get the news from the headquarters at 8 Theatre Rd. I was thinking all these while resting on my bed. A while ago Flt. Lt. Kadar, commander Babu and Atiq came to see me. We had a long session discussing some operational matters and administrative details. They have gone back. Very seldom I am alone. I always have visitors coming and going. Most of them are freedom fighters who come to discuss their problems. My days were quite busy at time hectic. Sometime the affectionate doctors and the nurses got alarmed with the stream of visitors and advised me to take more rest, which they thought was important for an early recovery. I just could not afford that and used to reciprocate their affection and kind concern with a smile. Mrs. Vodke sent me food everyday from her home. I shall ever remain indebted to her and the others for their sincere concern and love. Such gestures were very precious in a foreign land.
One day I was feeling very lonely. I was thinking about the sweet memories. Nimmi surfaced in my thought. I got lost in the past. Suddenly I was distracted and saw three characters at the door. Mahboob and Farooq two of my favorite guerrilla commanders. But I was taken a back by the sight of their companion. I just could not believe my own eyes.
But as they entered everything became clear. Yes, it was Bappi.
"How come you are here?" I exclaimed as I pulled myself up on the bed.
"Dont, keep laying and relax." Bappi commanded. He came forward and hugged me passionately. We remained speechless for a while as both of us were overwhelmed with the happiness of such an unexpected reunion. Mahboob drew a chair near my bed for Bappi. "How come you are here? Now tell me how could you manage? How did you find your way? Who told you that I was here?" I asked all these questions in one breath.
"First of all you tell me, why did you not inform us about your injury?" Bappi posed a counter question.
"Are you sure, that you cant understand why I did not inform you all about this injury." I countered.
"Well it is true we would have been upset and worried. Particularly Nimmi. But even then you should have informed us." Bappi said. I accepted his argument.
"But now tell me, why are you here?" I asked.
"Nur Bhai and Salahuddin Bhai both came down to our place and informed us about your injury. They ofcourse tried to explain to Nimmi that everything was under control and you were recovering fast. But Nimmi was not totally convinced. She thought that Lt. Nur and Capt. Salahuddin being good friends were hiding actual facts from her. They were not telling her the whole truth. She started crying hell once they left. She even stopped taking her meals." Bappi continued," I was deeply moved at her helplessness and was concerned about her physical state. I finally told her, I myself would go up to Shilchar. But Baba and Maa wouldnt allow, as all arrangements were complete for both Nimmi and me to go to Canada. Against our wishes Baba had arranged with Gamu Kakku to send Nimmi and me over to him in Canada. Maa has taken a vow that should we refuse to go to Canada she would commit suicide. You know how obstinate she is. But Nimmi has refused to go. She is equally adamant in her decision. This has made the situation even more precarious. There is a cold war going on at the house. Baba and Maa both are very annoyed with Nimmi. She is under extreme pressure. She is being scolded and beaten mercilessly at times. Poor girl is really under-going a hell. The situation might force her to utter desperation. The whole atmosphere is messy and untenable, totally ridiculous. So, I just told Baba and Maa that I must meet Dalim before going to Canada. If I am not allowed then I shall not go to Canada and shall join the war. It worked miracle. They perhaps realized my seriousness so Baba said, Very well you may go but promise you will be back. I gave my words and I am here. Nimmi was greatly relieved as I was permitted to come. I promised Nimmi before coming that I shall do everything that is needed and if it is necessary I shall take you with me to Calcutta for better treatment. Thus I took a flight up to Gauhati and the train to Masimpur. I found out the Mukti Fauj headquarters very easily. From there Mahboob and Farooq were asked to escort me upto here. But what I found most amusing the moment I stepped on Masimpur that my name was well know to the freedom fighters out here".
"Thats right. Both Mahboob and Farooq are very close to me. I am very fond of them. Many others also know everything about you all." I said. The attending nurse at one time had brought in some refreshments for us considering Bappi to be a special guest.
"Dont, get horrified with the huge bandage on my left arm. The wound is much smaller in comparison. Just three LMG bullets on the shoulder and a splinter of 120 mm Mortar on the palm, thats about all." I tried to dispel his worries. I further said, "The doctors had opined that as I survived through the long drive of 90 miles with continuous bleeding, there is nothing to worry about. Dont you see man how I have established a mini OPs room? I am really fine." I had to say this to comfort him as I could see his tears. I dont know how much I could convince him with my bravado. Bappi looked at me straight and said,
"Well I think you just cannot rott here in this field hospital. I shall take you along to Calcutta for better treatment".
"You are absolutely right Bappi Bhai. The doctors are also of the same opinion. They also think it would be better to go to Calcutta to get specialized treatment. But Haq Bhai does not want to leave the sector. It is true his absence will make a lot of difference out here, but we all want him to go to Calcutta for treatment so that he can again be with us completely cured. Once he is back, what ever losses we might have encured due to his absence, shall be compensated within no time that is for sure." Mahboob enthusiastically responded to Bappis proposal. Farooq also supported Mahboob and further added,
"You have to take Haq Bhai to Calcutta by hook or by crook. His condition may even get worse as this hospital does not have all the facilities to treat him. We want to get him back among us fully recovered. For this he has to go to Calcutta for a while."
Bappis insistence, supported strongly by my beloved freedom fighters finally prevailed and I had to conceit to their demand. And thus one fine day after necessary arrangements Bappi and I set off for Calcutta saying good bye to all my fighters and well wishers. We had to come up to Gauhati by road. My most vafourite guerrilla commanders escorted us up to Gauhati. From Gauhati by plane to Calcutta. I was feeling very sad to leave all of them. They also bed farewell with heavy hearts. I told them,
"I shall be back."
In Calcutta I found lot many changes. Capt. Salahuddin was then heading the intelligence cell that was set up at the C-in-Cs headquarters. Capt. Nurul Islam Shishu was brought back from the sector on health ground as a staff officer. He was suffering from some kind of nervous breakdown problem. He was not coping well with the realities of sector life. Maj. Moinul Islam was removed from the command. He was summoned back to the headquarters for his cowardice and unbecoming leadership. During the war we got aquatinted with some local families at Calcutta. They were supporting our cause in many ways. We became very close to Dr. Gani and his family, Arup Da and Parumita Boudee, Mr. Syed Ayub and his wife Gauri Dee, Pritish Nandi and his wife Rina, Indira, Moitri Mashima to name among others. They used to render assistance to us in various ways. They always remained anxious to listen about the war and the progress we were making at the battle front. Whenever we were at Calcutta we used to visit these families at leisure. They were all imbued with the sentiment of Bengali nationalism. But strangely enough, whenever we tried to say in our discussion that it was a golden opportunity for the Bengalis of West Bengal to join hands with us in the armed struggle to liberate themselves and materialize the betrayed dream of United Bengal they felt uneasy. They surprisingly always tried to avoid and by pass such topic or maintained queer silence. Such reactions were thought provoking and needed deliberation. However, as they used to feel very much embarrassed and uneasy on this sensitive issue, we never persuade this topic vehemently. But we did make the point that taking advantage of our liberation war the Congress (I) government was annihilating or physically eliminating innumerable progressive people, political workers, youth, and student activists in West Bengal and adjacent Bihar by CRP and BSF Reserve police (central and Border Security Force). It was hard for them to discount this blatant truth. But some how they swallowed this bitter pill with silent naivety. I still at times ponder on their mysterious silence.
Arrangements were made for me to stay at Theatre Road. Parumita Baudee meanwhile had already discussed about my treatment with Prof. Murali Mukharjee, the renowned orthopedic surgeon. We had a long discussion. After inspecting my wounds he opined that there was a bad kind of infection. This is quiet common with the wounds caused by bullets and gunpowder. If the infection can not be brought under control it might turn into gangrene. He further said,
"First we shall try to cure the infection and then operation". I got little nervous. But there was nothing much we could do but take his advice. I have to accept the hard realties. He wrote down a prescription for the medicines and injections for one week. Baudee was very sweet. To boost up my moral she said,
"Dont worry every thing would be all right."
I was spending most of my time lying on the bed. Nimmi sometime came with Bappi to see me. It was not possible for her to visit me everyday. Whenever possible she used to phone me. She used to send food of my choice through Bappi whenever she got the opportunity. One day Bappi came. He looked unusually grim. I could guess something had gone wrong at the house. Exactly that, there was a storm at the house concerning their going to Canada. Hot exchange of words followed by severe beatings.
"Situation has really become very serious. Something needs to be done, other wise Nimmi might take any untoward move. A softhearted soul like Nimmi has become very adamant. Baba, Maa shall never succeed to send her off to Canada. Due to physical and mental strains her condition is also deteriorating fast. She has virtually fallen sick. In such condition how long she would be able to withstand the pressure from Baba and Maa?" Bappi pondered.
I was very worried and did not know how to solve this problem. I could not find a way out. The matter could be discussed with Nur and Salahuddin. I discussed with them. After deliberations both of them suggested that marriage was the only solution. "If you merry her, her Canada going will be stopped and she will be able to stay nearer to you which she wants". Nur said. I seriously thought over it and finally decided to get married. But whether her parents would agree to get their daughter married at the present situation that is another question. One day Nur and Salahuddin went to their house to propose on my behalf. Chacha and Khallamma did not agree with the proposal. There cannot be any question of marriage at this point of time. They argued, when everything is so uncertain how could they think of the marriage of their daughter? Parents were not in a mood to listen to any logic or argument. Lt. Nur and Capt. Salahuddin came back dishearten.
The situation further aggravated after their visit with the proposal. Nimmi wrote to me that by any means I must salvage her from the unbearable situation. Otherwise she would commit suicide but will not go to Canada leaving me here. I got nervous. I knew quiet well that she could do anything to maintain her self-respect and honor. By any means we must get married at the earliest. Nur and Salahuddin also agreed with my decision. We discussed the matter with Gani Nana, Gauri Dee and Mrs. Zaman and sought their opinions. They also thought marriage to be the only solution. Accordingly I wrote to her that we were planning to do something very soon to resolve this problem. She was asked to remain composed and physically fit to help us executing our plan. The marriage would take place. But then how to take out Nimmi from No. 3 Surhwardy Avenue? The house is well fortified. About 30/40-armed police were guarding the house twenty-four hours. Nimmi was under strict observation. She was banned to go out of the house. Above and all physically she had become weak. All of us got together to chalkout a plan to get her out:
Mrs. Zaman, Naila, Lubna and Gauri Mashi would go to their house to discuss about the formation of Bangladesh cultural troupe in exile. Naila and Lubna were Nimmis friends. Mrs. R. I. Choudhury knew Mrs. Zaman. It was decided that when Mrs. Zaman and Gauri Mashi would be talking to Khallamma, Naila and Lubna will some how get Nimmi out. Outside at the gate Nur and others would be waiting in the Jeeps. From there they would drive off straight to the house of Moitri Mashima. Marriage would take places there. Gani Nana was given the responsibility to arrange the Kazi and the marriage registrar. Capt. Salahuddin was given responsibility to organize other essential necessities. In the Theatre Rd headquarters only Capt. Choudhury was kept informed about this operation. All arrangements were made very discretely to avoid any complications. The date for the marriage was fixed on 16 August 1971. On the D-day Mrs. Zaman and her party reached No. 3 Surhwardy Avenue at about 10 oclock in the morning. While everybody got engaged in talks at one opportune movement Naila and Lubna went upto Nimmis room. Getting inside, Naila said hurriedly, "come with us at once today is your wedding day."
Nimmi was puzzled at first, but she understood everything the next moment. She proved courageous enough and got up quickly and was ready to move out of the house with Naila and Lubna. For any unmarried girl to take such an instant decision was not easy. Depth and sincerity of her love gave her strength at that moment to take such a critical decision and thus impossibility was turned into a possibility within seconds. She was unable to walk properly being weak physically and mentally Naila and Lubna virtually carried her and some how managed to bring her outside the gate. From there all of them drove to Moitri Mashis residence under Lt. Nur Choudhurys command. We were all waiting there. All arrangements had been done. Salahuddin had bought two sarees each costing about 20/25 rupees and a curta for me costing 10 rupees. Wearing those we got married. Capt. Salahuddin became Nimmis Ukil Bap. The witnesses were Gani Nana, Gauri Dee, Nur and Mrs. Zaman. Once the ceremony was over Moitri Mashi and other elders who were present blessed us. The marriage registrar required two to three days to prepare the document (marriage certificate). We were required to remain in hiding those few days. Because we needed that valid document to face any eventualities as we had eloped. Gauri Dee took the trouble to arrange a small flat on the Park Street belonging to one of her friend who was a rich and established businessman. It was a small cute little flat but nice and comfortable. That was going to be our hide out. We would enjoy our honeymoon remaining confined in that flat. No one other than the people who were directly involved in the marriage knew our where about. We reached our hide out same evening after dask. Gani Nana, Gauri Dee, Salahuddin and Nur escorted us up to the flat. Naila and Lubna tastefully decorated our bedroom with fragrant Belli and Rajanigandha flowers. Once they left suddenly we felt very lonely. The events had moved so fast that we had no time to think about any thing. Being alone in the flat Nimmi started crying thinking about the seriousness and gravity of the event that had taken place. It was quite but a natural outburst. I tried to console her and said,
"Dont cry every thing will be all right. Be patient, time is the best healer". Poor Nimmi! My consolation could not stop tears rolling down her cheeks. At onetime she fell asleep being very tired due to fatigue and stress. I also fell asleep while thinking about our destiny. Next day morning Nur came and informed that the events have gone a bit too far than was anticipated. Nimmis father had lodged an complain with Mr. Tajuddin the Prime Minister that I have abducted his daughter from the house. The Prime Minister summoned Capt. Salahuddin the chief of intelligence and ordered him to find us out by any means. If necessary he was told to take help from the Indian police force or the intelligence agencies. Nothing could be disclosed to any one before the marriage certificate was in hand. Col. Osmani has become equally angry. The officer who could break army discipline and can kidnap somebodys daughter should be brought to book. He has become very much perturb. He told Nur,
"How could an officer like Dalim do such a thing? I just fail to understand that." Nur warned us,
"Sir, dont get out from the flat till you receive the document in hand". Gani Nana was trying to get the document registered as soon as possible through his connections. Once that was received, efforts would be made to strike a compromise. I had earlier thought to call Bappi and tell him we are ok. But after hearing everything from Nur I decided not to do so. On 19th we got the document in land. The same very day Capt. Salahuddin, Lt. Nur, Gp. Capt. Khandakar and Cpt. choudhury explained everything to Mr. Tajuddin and Col. Osmani. They also requested Mr. Tajuddin to pacify Mr. R. I. Choudhury and make a compromise between the parties involved.
Mr. Tajuddin called for Mr. R.I. Choudhury and both of us at the Theatre Rd the same evening. We reached earlier than Mr. Choudhury. We both paid our Salam to Mr. Tajuddin and Col. Osmani, they blessed us in return. Mr. Tajuddin said,
"I have called Mr. Choudhury to come. Whatever has happened dont think about that and now once he arrives beg for his forgiveness, both of you together ok? This will work. Because although Mr. Choudhury apparently looked to be a tough officer at his heart he is very soft and pure like a child."
Little later Mr. Choudhury and Bappi arrived. Nur welcomed them and took them to Mr. Tajuddins room. Col. Osmani was also present there. We were summoned. Moment we entered, Mr. Tajuddin shouted,
"What have you done? How dare you doing such an outrageous act? I am deeply shocked with your unbecoming behavior. Marriage is not a childs play. No one can be happy without the blessings of the elders. Now apologizes from Mr. Choudhury. Mr. Choudhury they are your children. Unknowingly they have committed a blunder. Please I request you to forgive them and bless them both."
Moment Mr. Tajuddin finished we both together fell at Mr. Choudhurys feet. Nimmi started crying and Chacha that means Mr. Chaudhury melt like a candle. He pulled us up and started crying himself embracing both of us. Nur and Salahuddin were standing by. The waiters came in with the sweets. The whole atmosphere at the Theatre Rd turned into festivity. Chacha told us that Maa was in a state of sock. Therefore, it was decided that we would stay a few more days at the guesthouse till she cools down and everything at No. 3 Surhwardy Avenue becomes normal. Bappi was very unhappy with all of us as he was kept away from the marriage. We some how managed to pacify him with lot of difficulties. After Mr. Chaudhury left Mr. Tajuddin said, "You had ventured to marry each other at your own choice. Remember, from now you have to be the best of friends and support to each other. Dont get upset every thing will become all right with time. We also got married like you against our parents will. I pray that you both have long successful and happy matrimony". As we took leave from the Prime Minister and came out all who were present at the Theater road surrounded us. Col. Osmani also joined with us. They were making all kinds of fun with the newly married couple. On behalf of Col. Osmani a grand dinner was arranged at the mess that night. We all had our dinner together. Some special items were prepared that night. At a very important juncture of our life the amount of warmth, sincerety, love and affection that we got from Mr. Tajuddin, Col. Osmani, Gp.Capt. Khandakar, Capt. Choudhury, Capt. Salahuddin, Lt. Nur, Moitri Mashi, Parumita Baudee, Arup Dar, Gour Ddee, Gani Nana, Mrs. Zaman, Naila, Lubna shall be cherished at our hearts and we shall remain indebted to all of them for ever. Due to the fast flowing events and tensions I forgot to take my medicines and failed to get my injections and prescribed dressings in time. Suddenly pain aggravated and I was running temperature. The wound started stinking badly. I was again rushed to Dr. Mukharjee. Examining the wounds he got very upset. Due to shere negligence gangrene had started. I needed to be operated immediately to save my arm. We all got worried. If I get admitted then how Nimmi would stay alone in that flat? This was a big concern to me. I really did not know what I should do. Again Gani Nana came to my rescue.
"Nimmi is my daughter. She will stay with us. You dont bother about her. You just get your admission in the hospital."
I was greatly releaved. I thanked Gani Nana for his kind offer. In reply he said,
"You dont have to do that. I love you both. And love demands sharing of responsibilities". Parumita Baudee quickly made all arrangements to get me admitted at the PG Hospital. Dr. Mukharjee operated on me. To stop the gangrene to spread any further, some portion of my left palm was emputed. Allah was great. After the operation Dr. Mukharjee said if we would have been late by one or two more days then my entire left arm would have been lost.
The sufferings Nimmi were under-going pained me the most. I was feeling guilty conscience all the time since we got married, but never expressed my feelings overtly. Some how, I blamed myself for dragging her into such uncertainties. But again as a Muslim I had to believe that marriage was one of the things that is preordained. I could well understand how she had been feeling within herself. She was going through hell thinking about her family particularly about Khallamma. They both had been very close to each other just like best of friends. Above all she was extremely anxious about my health. From Bappi we gathered Chacha was totally shattered. He wanted to take us back right away. But considering Khallammas reaction he was unable to propose that. Khallamma was equally affectionate. Her reaction was an emotional outburst. This was quite normal. All these things together made the situation complicated. She was completely shattered inside but did not express anything for my sake. She was extra conscious not to hurt me with her sufferings. She was just bearing everything quietly and posed to be normal. Her sacrifice, tolerance and divinity made me even smaller. I always thought it was me who was responsible for her helplessness. So I decided to do anything that was required to remove her agony.
I had to stay in the hospital for about a week. After coming out from the hospital one day, I took her along and went straight to No.3 Surhwardy Avenue. Chacha, Bappi and Manu were all overwhelmed. I asked Bappi,
"Where is khallamma?" Bappi replied,
"She spends most of her time in her bedroom. These days she hardly talks to anyone."
I just went inside her room. She was lying on her bed. She was shocked. She just stared at me as if she had seen a ghost. She quickly stood up from the bed. Before she could say anything I just lifted her with one arm and said,
" Khallamma please forgive us both. You got to forgive us".
She was totally perplexed at this unexpected behaviour. She just said,
"Look! you mad cap, what are you doing? You shall hurt yourself, get me down please".
"I shall not release you till you say you have forgiven us."
Warmth of my passion finally melted the ice berg. She just hugged me out of her motherly affection and love. She could not hold herself anymore. Tears rolled down her cheeks. I was so much charged with emotions, that I even forgot about my arm. After sometime she controlled herself and asked,
"Where is Nimmi?" I said,
"She is in the drawing room with Chacha, Bappi and Manu". She said,
"Please take me there."
She was still very excited. I took her in my arms and returned to the drawing room. Every one was surprised. Perhaps, they never expected such a dramatic change. They might have been thinking how this could be possible, that is what I could read in their inquiring eyes. Nimmi rushed to Khallamma and embraced her with tears in her eyes. She also could not hold herself. All anger, reservations washed away in the flow of love and passion. They were really crying their hearts out. We all stood in silence and were enjoying the happy reunion of the daughter with her mother. The same very day we left Gani Nanas place and got back home 3 Surhwardy Avenue.