As a woman and wife, Bangamata demanded little and led a very simple life
There is a popular saying that “Behind every successful man, there is a woman.”
When it comes to the success of the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, everyone confidently also names a woman for inspiring him throughout his life – Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib, the wife of Bangabandhu.
Saturday marks the 90th birth anniversary of this great woman.
On this day in 1930, she was born to a noble Muslim family of Tungipara village of the then Gopalganj sub-division in Faridpur.
Fazilatunnesa Mujib lost her parents at the age of five and was raised by her future mother-in-law.
At the age of 11, she was married to Bangabandhu and they subsequently became the happy parents of two daughters — Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana, and three sons — Sheikh Kamal, Sheikh Jamal, and Sheikh Russel.
She was killed along with her husband and most of her family members, including all her three sons, on August 15, 1975.
Begum Mujib, also known as Renu, always remained the key source of encouragement, strength and courage for Bangabandhu throughout his life and hardships. She was not only a witness to the major events of Bangabandhu’s life, but was also his closest associate.
To her credit, she was the force that made Mujib, Bangabandhu.
Bangabandhu spent a major part of his life behind bars for his political activism. During such difficulties, Begum Mujib or Bangamata as she is affectionately called, took care of the family single-handedly and acted as a bridge between the party and the incarcerated Mujib.
She was put under house arrest by the Pakistani military intelligence until December 17, 1971, a day after the country was liberated.
Bangamata in Bangabandhu’s life
Bangamata Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib always remained behind the scenes and encouraged Bangabandhu to do politics for the people of the country.
“My mother always encouraged him [Bangabandhu] to do politics for the people of this country…she never pulled him back… she never looked out for her own interests… she never thought of what she would get in life.”
This is how Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the eldest of five children of Bangamata and Bangabandhu, recalled memories of her mother back in 2017, on the day of Bangamata’s birth anniversary.
She said Bangamata helped Bangabandhu from behind the scenes and he could become a great leader because she was beside him.
Hasina said her father used to talk to her mother before making any major political decision and she would help him decide.
Bangamata played a key role during the crucial political event of the Agartala conspiracy case. Despite pressure from various quarters, she sent a message to Bangabandhu who was then behind bars, not to accept the proposal of coming out of jail on parole in the case.
Bangabandhu rejected the parole offer and the Pakistan government was later forced to free him unconditionally.
Bangamata not only managed her family, but also played an important role in administering the Awami League when Bangabandhu was frequently imprisoned on political grounds.
She also used to serve the families of other detained leaders in their economic hardship.
In 2015, at a separate event marking Bangamata’s birth anniversary, Sheikh Hasina said: “All the time when Bangabandhu was in jail, Bangamata Fazilatunnesa played her role very efficiently from behind the scenes in organizing the party, creating public opinion for Mujib’s political program, and taking forward the movement, though she never wanted any publicity for this.
She said Bangamata as a woman and wife had no demands and she led a very simple life.
Bangabandhu also highlighted many unknown aspects of his wife including her mental strength, sacrifice, courage, wisdom and suffering, in his biography: “Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: The Unfinished Memoirs.”