Published:  12:24 AM, 26 March 2020

Preserving history

The old Ganobhavan, once known as President's House, beside Ramna Park in the nation's capital, ought to have been preserved in the way it was used till 1973, for it was between early 1972 and 1973 that Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman made use of it as his office.

Until he moved to the new Ganobhavan (which was originally meant to serve as a hostel for members of Pakistan's national assembly) in Sher-e-Banglanagar, the Father of the Nation operated as Prime Minister from the old Ganobhavan. Since 1973, the old Ganobhavan has been utilized for a multiplicity of purposes, with no one even suggesting that it be kept as it used to be for reasons of history.

There are structures and places which remain part of our history. An important one is the Central Shaheed Minar in commemoration of the tragedy of February 1952.  But there are other sites that ought to have been preserved as well. Tajuddin Ahmad's home in Dhanmondi, symbol of Bengali nationalism in so many ways, does not exist any more. A modern structure, housing offices and a gallery, has replaced it.

History is always a slow, ponderous march of moving images. It is, at the same time, a series of moments encapsulated in the past, to be remembered in the present, to be commemorated in increasing degrees of intensity in the future. It is a narrow alley where young men destined for middle-aged greatness once walked, unaware that each step they took was a new brick laid on the pathway leading to a newer making of history.

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