Sacrifice for Mother Tongue, Sacrifice means giving up for the sake of other considerations. We live in a society where we ought to help each other. In fact, some courageous people laid down their lives for their mother tongue. Yes, I am talking about International Mother Language Day. 21st February is a living example that subsumes seemingly oppositional ideas.
Sacrifice for Mother Tongue
Surely, it did not happen at one fell swoop, definitely not on one day. It is a long history that dates back to many stories of oppression, disillusionment, deprivation, marginalization, trampled hopes and shattered dreams. Students, vanguards of the society were the first to protest against colonial rule. Hence, Rashtrabasha Songram Parishad was formed in 1947 which remained alert to any possible transplant of a foreign language.
An attack on February 21, 1952, students became rebellious and showed their pent-up emotion and agitation against such conspiracy. Raffiq Uddin Ahmed was shot by policemen. A 19-year-old Gaffar Chowdhury wrote a poem standing next to an injured activist which was first published in a newspaper and was put a tune to Abdul Latif and Altaf Mahmud. Ever since, “amar bhaiyer rokhte rangano” (A day stained with my brother’s blood, can I ever forget February the twenty-first?). It is a song that epitomizes our national sentiment. Ekush is a day that is tinged into both cultural and political ideas. It is a day which is morphed into dates that bridges divisions.
History of 21st February
We can put on foreign garb speaking many other languages to correspond and communicate at a professional sphere. However, it does not take away our national consciousness. In 1999, UNESCO recognized Ekushey as International Mother Language Day signifying symbolic and endorsement of the idea that language defines our essential existence. Ekush is our pride and hope.
Bengalis irrespective of their religious creed join “probhat feri“ which is a procession to the language memorial. Many people pay homage to dead souls on 21st February. Bengalis will sing in chorus and carry floral offerings to show respect towards martyred people. Many renowned singers are summoned on national television to sing a song to represent our cultural diversity.
International Mother Language Day
Nevertheless, it is a shame that the overwhelming presence of media, as atrophy of what is known as globalization often makes us forget who we are. The urge to speak in English and disregard Bangla has become a fad in our part of the Bangla-speaking territory. The mimicry of the west may lead us to a hybrid nation that yields in quantity, take away its essential quality to germinate. I reckon that we need to give due importance to Bangla as well as learning to respect other languages.
To me, 21st February is a day that is inextricably intertwined in my mind. The glamour and glory of Ekushey that I mentioned need constant nurturing. People must not scoff at those people who are accustomed to using local dialects.
Perhaps I might have failed to show my respect due to the dearth of my vocabulary. Our new generations are not meant for adorning the feet of the Shaheed Minar with flowers. They should know the sacrifices made by our previous generations for us to see the smile in our mother. Bangladesh is our motherland where Bangla is the essence of our identity. We must take pride in our mother tongue.
Author: Deepto Chakraborty
University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh
Member of ‘Future Writers’