A Trail to the rise of the sun

by Dr Munirus Saleheen

Dusk, Dawn and Liberation:A historical fiction on the liberation struggle of Bangladesh by Masud Ahmed  Published by Authorhouse London Price: £ 12.95/ BDT 1,740

Dusk, Dawn and Liberation:A historical fiction on the liberation struggle of Bangladesh
by Masud Ahmed
Published by Authorhouse London
Price: £ 12.95/ BDT 1,740

The year 1971 that saw the birth of Bangladesh indeed epitomised the fusion of ‘the best of times and the worst of times’ in a single period. It heralded a dawn that traversed through a long path of darkness. The colossal bloodbath in 1971 painted in history the rise of an independent sovereign nation that has inspired many creative minds to recreate its’ epic tale of death and victory through film, poetry, music and art. ‘Dusk, Dawn and Liberation’ by Masud Ahmed is his first literary foray into English fiction in the hope of recounting the liberation struggles for international readers to get an insight into the bloody birth of our nation.
The story captures the 11 months between February and December of 1971 during which there was much bloodshed in love for the land and a fury spurred on by a bitter hate for the enemy which led to the death of East and West Pakistan. As he shifts narratives between characters on both sides of the divide,  the author unfolds the demonic powers that had been unleashed upon unarmed civilians who rose up in rage in a revolution against an evil which cast the dark shadow of death upon millions. The story sees the protagonist Asad shed his apolitical views and take up arms alongside thousands of freedom fighters, to avenge the killing of his parents and the abduction of his sister.
Garbed in fiction, the author recounts actual historic details of the atrocities committed by West Pakistan such as indiscriminate killing, raping of women, and burning and looting of civilians’ properties. The novel uses unique stylistic and narrative elements to capture the conflicts, fractures and contradictions within its’ pages. The title which juxtaposes two contrasting times of dusk and dawn is symbolic of the crisis and conflict that pervaded the nation at the time. He visually foreshadows the events of  the ‘Black Night’ using stark imagery to set the scene for the gruesome massacre that took place on the night of 25th March, 1971.
‘A vernal equinox was in progress. A big moon was floating on a clear sky. The vacant roads were glittering with the shining moonlight… The roads has only one continual sound from plying military vehicles at prolonged intervals. At a faraway place a dog was barking.’
Using historical facts, he exposes the hypocrisy of the Pakistani leaders as they used religion as a facade to hide their true motives of ethnic cleansing and promoting genocide. They were ruthless in their cruelty as they strategically killed, tortured, burned and raped our men and women to physically and psychologically break the spirits of the nation. This turned into a macabre entertainment for the Pakistani army which is outlined in this character description, ‘Lt. Colonel Najar Hossain’s father was a famous lyricist…Najar however had no liking for music. His lookout was for murder, blood and the kill… With each news of a Bengalee casualty he was jumping with a morbid satisfaction.’
This novel does its’ best to provide the readers with an authentic depiction of characters as is evident in the portrayal of characters such as Bangbandhu, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, Yahiya Khan or Zulfikar Ali Bhutto through known events. Despite having changed the names, any reader with some familiarity of history will be able to pick out the relevant characters.
However, much like other pieces of historical fiction, there are times when the passion of the author overrides his commitment to historical accuracy at times painting a picture that is too black and white. The villains indulge in acts of drunken debauchery as a contrast to the nobility of the Muktis whose patriotism led them to selfishly martyr themselves in the fight for freedom.
All in all, this is an enlightening novel which excites the readers as they follow a perilous trail to freedom with the rise of a blood red sun amidst the green landscape, with the dawn of a nation as they triumphed over their oppressors.

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