The chaos was beyond my imagination. I just saw a woman getting hit by a cricket ball. No one cared. She protested but cricketers were many, she could not do anything. I found a fair being held there, along with all the street vendors. Everyone’s focus was on the cricketers or shopping. There was no washroom or restroom to take a break. I am talking about the place I visited last week with my cousin -- Martyrs Intellectual Memorial at Rayer Bazar, Dhaka.
Years ago, I visited a cemetery for World War II in Chattogram and found that place well protected. Visitors were asked to be respectful during their stay at the cemetery. It was so calm and beautiful. Is this because it was a cemetery of foreigners?
History cannot be learnt only by reading books
I had expected someone would guide us through the history of the Rayer Bazar memorial. I expected that the environment would be calm and peaceful so that we can recall the past, that it would be full of flowers and green plants. But no, it was a total chaos. I saw people throwing chips packets and bottles into the water. The water was extremely dirty. People were throwing food onto the streets. People were smoking, spitting on the ground .The place was so dirty it didn’t seem like it was place where we pay respect to the martyrs . Is this patriotism ? Is it the way we respect our martyrs? Is this how we respect our country ?
Patriotism is not just about making a monument and leaving it there. It has to be come from heart . When I saw these people, it was like they don't have any emotions. They look emotionless about the monument. Some were even making tik tok videos. Some were busy taking selfies. I mean it looked like the monument was just a decoration to them, a fun place. Is this how we respect country ?
We are the generation next. We have overheard many things said about our thinking, our lack of knowledge about history, etc. But to be frank, I must say history cannot be learnt only by reading books. When I was a child, my family started to tell me about the history of Bangladesh. They also want to take me to the spots where history was made.
We have such a rich history that we can be proud of, but the problem is we cannot maintain the historic place. The problem is that the people don’t feel that these are places of respect.
The place is cleaned up when 14 December comes around. What about the rest of the year?
As a next generation representative, we expect this place should be one of deep respect where we can go and feel the past, recall history. Someone should be there to welcome the visitors, guide them. Entrance should be restricted to those who come to pay their respects to the martyrs. There should be police and guards to protect the place . The place should be neat and clean, calm and quiet.
My parents use to tell me history about our martyrs and the Liberation War. So when I heard about the intellectual martyrs, excitement ran through my body . I was eager to go there and see what the place looks like. But I guess my expectations were misplaced.
As a member of the next generation, I looked forward to see this as a place of deep respect. The place is cleaned up when 14 December comes around. What about the rest of the year? No one cares. I really hope the government takes action in this case so in the future people are going to come and show respect. But if it keeps going on like this, the place will never be one of respect. The martyrs sacrificed their lives for our country. It is for them that we are able to live in a free nation. We must honour them.
Aiyana Hasan is a student of Class 5