K. Anis Ahmed in Newsweek Pakistan:
In 1971, my father—a Bengali—was still an officer in the Pakistan Army and he had been posted to the western side of the country. My mother, only 25 at the time, faced the prospect of traveling alone with both my brother, barely a year and a half, and me—practically a newborn—2,000 kilometers from her home in Dhaka. So she did the smart thing; she left me with my grandparents to go set up home first. My grandmother would follow in a few weeks and deposit me with my parents. Before that trip could take place though, war broke out.
The story of my family is not atypical of what many Bangladeshi families went through in 1971. My father’s youngest brother, a 17-year-old in Jessore, left home one morning with the hope of crossing the border to join the Mukti Bahini; he was never found again. Another uncle spent most of the nine months of war on the run, a hunted man. My mother’s brother walked all the way past the border to join the famous camp of Khaled Mosharraf. He came back to Dhaka with two grenades in his pockets, but was arrested by the Pakistani Army before he could carry out his operation. Fortunately, he suffered no worse than imprisonment. Another uncle was also captured, and tortured.
Everyone lived in terror and penury common to war times, and in dreadful uncertainty about the future. Despite the loss and the torment, my family was lucky. There are families who lost most of their loved ones; we lost ultimately only my father’s youngest brother.
Among those who made it back home, though, my parents and brother were the last to return. They had become interned in West Pakistan along with scores of other Bengali officers and their families during the war. For families on either side of the separated nations, the hardest part was not knowing when, or whether, they might be united again.