Ferdousi Priyabhashini was held in Pakistani camps and tortured for the entire duration of the Liberation War
Freedom fighter and sculptor Ferdousi Priyabhashini has left Bangladesh, the whole world, and most importantly us all. Priyabhashini was not just a name or a person; she was, and forever will be, a legend and an icon. The Dhaka Tribune commemorates her and her achievements through this special arrangement
A warrior of her time
Ferdousi Priyabhashini was born in Khulna in 1947. She was a person who never tolerated any discrimination, so much so that she left her first marriage without thinking of anything else. She remarried in 1972, the year after the Liberation War had ended. Her second husband, Ahsan Ullah, tied the knot knowing everything about her. She leaves behind six children and countless people who loved and respected her from the bottom of their hearts.
A living icon of the Liberation War
Ferdousi Priyabhashini was held in Pakistani camps and tortured for the entire duration of the Liberation War. She was one of the first women to publicly describe the terrible details of being violated by the occupying forces. In one interview, she said: “They brutally raped me in the truck while taking me to Jessore after capturing me. At one point of the cruel and brutal torture I lost consciousness and was unconscious for about 28 hours.”
This incident was not for just one day or one night, the inhumane torture was inflicted upon her again and again. At one stage while trapped at those camps she started to lose her mental stability.
Interrogations for her brother
The Pakistani military acted on information that Ferdousi’s brother was a freedom fighter by trying to extract information on him by torturing her. During the interrogations she was asked: “We have proof that your brother was involved in the mission to blow up the huge telephone tower at Jessore. He is also a freedom fighter. Isn’t that true?” Though knowing that her brother was involved she never said a thing, despite her silence leading to more torture. She always kept saying to them: “You should just kill me as you are not going to let me go.”
The nation accepted her, society did not
Ferdousi faced a lot of hostility after surviving the military camps of the Liberation War. Her relatives did not talk to her when she attended a family function. Even the freedom fighter brother for whom she was tortured at the camps did not accept her. At times her husband felt sad about this. Ferdousi, however, always faced these situations with a smile. She proved that she fought the war with her body and she knew she had no reason to feel ashamed of that fact.
Honoured for her contributions after 44 years of independence
Ferdousi was the first woman to publicly announce herself as a “Birangona”, a term coined by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman for the thousands of rape victims of the Liberation War. She testified against the Razakars of 1971 but had to wait 44 long years to receive any honorary awards for her contributions in the war. She once said in an interview: “I am receiving awards till this day, as a sculptor. The government also awarded me the Independence Award for my association with art”. It was not until August 11, 2016 that Ferdousi was declared a freedom fighter, along with 122 other women. She dedicated the honour to all the freedom fighters and women who were brutally tortured during the war.
Artworks and aesthetics
Ferdousi Priyabhashini was involved in many professions. She was a teacher before becoming an artist, an expert sculptor and also the Independence Award winner. She created a brand of her own through the style of clothing and large, circular bindis she favoured wearing as a language of her protest. Ferdousi also had the gift and skills to make aesthetical products very cheaply. She had an interest in making beautiful home decoration pieces and other crafts with dry leaves and logs.
Demands about the Liberation War
In an interview after being declared a freedom fighter, Ferdousi said she believed Dhaka University should open a department about the Liberation War. She explained how such a department could accurately inform the new generation about the conflict, and could play the role of an information hub to explain how much sacrifice the nation had to make to claim its independence.
Forgot a lot of things, but not the Liberation War
The freedom fighter’s memory had started to fade as she grew old. She had forgotten a lot of things during her final days. Even so, this Priyabhashini herself boldly testified against the razakars of 1971. She might have forgotten a lot of other things because of her age but she remembered every detail of her ordeal in 1971 until her last breath.
A fighter who was a mother to all
Ferdousi Priyabhashini had the personality of a huge banyan tree. A lot of people address her as ‘mother’ for her warm yet brave heart and her contributions towards arts and culture. Blogger and online activist Arif Jebtik called her “mother” in her last moments. In the same way, fashion personality Biplab Saha, actor Shamima Tushti and many other expressed the same feelings for her.
This is how Ferdousi Priyabhashini, whose dedication, sacrifice and love helped to liberate this nation, turned into a mother towards the people of this country.
Source: Dhaka Tribune.