It is an autobiography he wrote when he was lodged in Dhaka central jail by the authorities of erstwhile East Pakistan between 1967 and 1969. It is a book Hasina, now Bangladesh's Prime Minister, decided to bring out when she was in the same jail as an Opposition leader for alleged graft during the army-backed caretaker government of Fakhruddin Ahmed (2007-09).
Thirty-five years after Mujib was assassinated in a military putsch on August 15, 1975, the book ‘Ashomapto Attojiboni’ (Unfinished Autobiography) hit the book stores in India and Bangladesh earlier this week.
The 300-page book, based on his diary he had penned in jail, chronicles his upbringing, family, movements during his life as a student activist, riots in Kolkata and Bihar, the Partition, Muslim League politics in Kolkata, politics at the initial stage of Pakistan, East Pakistan and of Pakistan in general, formation of Awami League and the 1952 Language Movement that sowed the seeds of Bangladesh's freedom.
The book also contains some facsimile of his writings and some of his rare photographs. Interestingly, the book would have been lost to posterity but for a chance discovery in 2004 by one of Hasina's relatives in a drawer of Sheikh Fazlul Haq Moni, nephew of Sheikh Mujib who too was killed along with Bangladesh's founder on August 14-15, 1975. Sheikh Moni was given the diary by Mujib for preparing a typed copy.
"Don't read it as long as I am alive. Read it after my death," those words by Bangabandhu, as Mujib is reverentially called, continue to ring even today, Hasina said as she launched the book in Dhaka. "I can remember those words even today," she said in an emotion-choked voice.
For Hasina, the diary was a prized possession. "We became very emotional and were gripped by pain when we handed over the notebook to Mohiuddin Ahmed, the owner of University Press Limited for its publication."
Hasina wrote the preface of the book and veteran Bangladeshi artist Qayyum Chowdhury has sketched the cover of the Bangla version. University Press Limited (UPL) has published Mujib's diary in Bengali and will also publish an English version of the book.
Penguin India has taken the copyright to publish Dhaka University professor Fakhrul Alam's English translation. As per the agreement between the two publishing houses, Penguin India will publish the book in several Indian languages including Hindi and Tamil. University Press of Pakistan has shown interest to publish the book's Urdu version, UPL said.