A unique novel

Babu Bangladesh! is a brilliant novel written by Numair Atif Choudhury. Numair was a Bangladeshi and this was his first unique novel. The title has an exclamation. He was working on the novel for fifteen years. He tragically passed away in an accident last year soon after finishing the final draft.

 Interestingly the book begins on December 16, 2028. This book is about Babu Abdul Majumdar. For many he was Babu Bangladesh or Babu. He was a writer, politician and environmentalist. The biographer was searching the story of a man whom many thought was the leader of his generation. In the process he recollected the history of a new nation, Bangladesh. Babu was in the international spotlight from 2008 until he went missing in 2021. But, his memory is still alive. Along with odd bridge, few institutes are also named after him. As an environmentalist and politician he advocated development for poverty-stricken regions.

 In the year 2028, a biographer begins to document the life of an inspiring and controversial Babu. The biographer was fascinated by Babu when he took part in one of Babu’s famous rallies. Babu was contesting a parliamentary seat in 2001 from Tangail district. In 2013, Babu resigned his parliamentary seat after voters elected him three times. He went missing in 2021. The biographer was thrilled when he found Babu’s private diaries in 2025. The diaries containing 147 handwritten pages helped biographer to recreate life of Babu.

 The book automatically narrates socio-economic-political scenario of the country. It talks about liberation war. General Ziaur Rehman became President in 1977, “he amplified the prominence of Islam in Bangladesh and the founding principle of ‘secularism’ was removed altogether from the Constitution. (Two years later, General Zia would purge another of the founding principles: ‘socialism’ was replaced with ‘economic and social justice’.)” In June 1988, General Mohammed Ershad, who died on 14th July, declared Islam a state religion by amending the secular constitution.

 The politics of Bangladesh revolves around Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Awami League and Bangladesh National Party (BNP) led by former PM Khaleda Zia. But, Babu preferred a smaller party Jatiyo Samajtantrik Dal (JSD) and joined it. The party was headed by freedom fighters and they retained the spirit of 1971.

 The book is also important for persons who want to understand Bangladesh. The author also narrates why 21st February is called International Mother Language Day. In 1952, West Pakistan decided Urdu as national language. Students of Dhaka University protested as Bengali language was discriminated. On 21st February 1952 students were fired upon by security forces. The language movement thus sprung.

This discrimination ultimately led to the liberation war and Bangladesh came into existence.

Almost 50 years later, the United Nations (UN) decided to observe 21st February as Mother Language Day. In the Pakistan elections of 1971, the Awami League won 167 out of 169 seats in East Pakistan. Then Awami League was not allowed to form a government. The genocide followed and finally Bangladesh became a reality. The book is an interesting read.