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“Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken” in Shankhari Bazaar, Dhaka, Bangladesh by Ekramul Haque Ehite

This photo was taken in Old Dhaka, Bangladesh, at midnight on Dec. 16, 2013 by International House student, Ekramul Haque Ehite. According to the artist, “Bangladesh became an independent nation on Dec. 16, 1971, after a bitter nine-month war. Thus, this day is celebrated enthusiastically as Victory Day across the country every year. Especially, the Victory Day celebration in the old parts of the capital city of Dhaka is legendary. Growing up in a remote town far away from the capital, the stories of the Old Dhaka rooftop parties with fireworks and midnight processions with fire-breathing enamored me. However, we were forbidden as children to attend these festivities because of the fire hazard and the gathering of huge crowds in tiny enclaves. In fact, as a person who is not a big fan of fire and large crowds, I probably never realized the inner meaning behind such vivacious celebrations. However, when I finally got to experience this tradition in the flesh on Shankhari Bazaar (a traditional neighborhood which was one of the worst affected during the 1971 liberation war), it all became clear to me. I was so close to the fire that I could feel my eyes smoking up, but I could not take my eyes off the sight of the flag of Bangladesh juxtaposed with a backdrop of fire and flames. Nor could I stop joining the crowd in spontaneously screaming ‘Joi Bangla’ (meaning ‘Victory to Bengal,’ a slogan that inspired the Bangladeshi freedom fighters in 1971). The fluttering of our beloved Red and Green flag against the conflagration represented the fortitude of our nation against all oppression and tyranny. Standing on that cold winter night with a cheering crowd, I suddenly realized why millions of youths my age left their comfortable lives in the cities and villages and joined the allied forces to liberate our country. As a famous Bangladeshi patriotic song goes, the world looked on with wonder as Bangladesh burned and singed but never bowed its head. Unbent, unbowed, unbroken.”