With folded hands, in gratitude, I celebrate the young women, the spirited footballers who have come home in their champion’s attire. They have given us a reason for a rekindling of hope in ourselves. They light up the present. They paint the future in rainbow brush strokes.
In this land of citizens eking out a humble living, I sing of the women of my country, those who marched in defence of our language decades ago on the streets of this city. They strengthened in us the meaning of patriotism.
Years removed from that year of purposeful politics, I go walking through history’s alleys and lanes, to pay homage to the young women who took to the seamy streets dotting the country in their urge for national freedom.
In Bangladesh, where heritage forms the core of historical faith, I sing praises of women whose determination to transform the political contours of the country through upholding the cause of democracy changed life for us. They hold forth, through the chain links of history, the glory of our narrative.
I observe with joy the empowered women, every one of them, who have given substance to our civil service, to our police, our security forces and our armed services. Pride rises in me as I watch our women, in their role as diplomats, speak of our dreams overseas.
I know of the strengthening of the national economic base, brought about by all those women trekking to their factories at dawn and making it back in the late hours of the evening. I celebrate their diligence and their resilience, for they keep the country going.
I bow in unqualified reverence before the woman who pulls a rickshaw to ensure the survival of her family. For the young woman who drives that truck, who is behind the wheels of that bus, my respect is boundless.
To the women who have built careers in teaching, in the rural landscape of the country and in the expanses of urban life, my heart is on offer. They educate our children even as they struggle to keep the lamp in the family burning bright.
I salute the young women whose entry into entrepreneurship has caused a sea change in our attitudes to business, for these women have brought into the job a flair resonating with the masses. In the villages and towns, these women have lifted themselves and their neighbours out of poverty, pointing out to us the path to self-esteem.
I esteem the women who, moving from house to house working for families, give themselves no rest but remain busy the lifelong day to provide food for their children, and often medical care for their ailing spouses. The pains they suffer without complaint and are happy with the little bounties God gives them.
I learn, in rapt attention, of the meaning of life from the women who have enriched our literature. In the depths of the night, I hear in starry splendour the songs sung through time by our illustrious women, in whose melody has been a reaching out to the soul.
In my being is an unbridled festivity, in celebration of all the mothers of this land, parents who have taught their children the meaning of humility, have cared for them when they have fallen prey to ailment.
In the distance I see an ageing mother waiting at the edge of the ancient village for her grown children to come home to her in a great reunion of familial happiness. I sing of this mother.
As the last colours of the day fade, I hear the silent tears fall from the swollen eyes of the mother whose son touched her feet, sought her blessings and marched off to the war for national liberty.
He did not come back, for his martyr bones lie in some distant field or in the darkness of an overgrown bush. I compose a paean to the mother, for she is the embodiment of Bengali motherhood.
She is a sad song constantly ringing in the recesses of our collective being.