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Old August 26, 2017, 07:15 AM
Zeeshan Zeeshan is offline
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Default Trauma and psychotherapy

Few months ago, my mother and I were getting ready for an upcoming program at an organization called Kranti (Center for Dialogue of Bangladesh) to be held in a small Bangladeshi restaurant regarding '71 genocide. I was supposed to read a statement on declaration of war and just is my nature I wanted to research as much possible beforehand. Instead genuinely curious I turned to Mom and asked her what she witnessed.

She almost poured out in one breath how লাশ would drift from Brahmaputra river and would be scattered all over the place in Mymensingh. This I really didn't know. I heard countless times how my গিয়াশ নানা, an intellectual was carried away by Pak-bahini and was brutally murdereed. But when she detailed the incident about being a young girl in her teens having to witness the utter unbearable gore of the 1971 tragedy I could see she was not in her self.

Her face grew big, so did her eyes when she recounted how her mother (my nani) would shut off the door to a room so that they (she and her siblings) wouldn't have to witness the unbearable experience. It was almost she was that small girl back at that place. She became that person.

At that instant, I immediately realized how the tragedy left an indelible impression and trauma not only in herself, but our entire past generation.

Psychotherapy is a Western creation and is both novel and foreign to our culture. Just like it is new to the Rwandans who have witnessed their share of horrific genocide, in our culture it should be a much needed resort. As mentioned in that article, they don't like to talk about it to each other.

Of course, neither do we. But we do in our own ways. We hold themes and programmes and events pertaining to that brutal incident. Just look at some of the words to describe the tragedy: "আমার ভাইয়ের রক্তে রাংগানো..." or phrases such as "রক্তাতো দেহ" and "লাশে ভরা" replete in posters and banners around August 15 or 21st February.

Is this really the image we want to bestow to our children? The underlying sentiment seems to be: "Look at the horror we suffered, and you should hear about it too."

That should never be the impetus.

True, the past generation suffered and witnessed unspeakable horror of genocide and tragedy. First step is to acknowledge it either silently within or in an age-appropriate group.

Having done that next step should be how the generation - their generation- should cope with it. That is far more important than bestowing and handing the burden of the incident to future generation simply because of "importance" factor.

Third, we need to set up either state funded medical programs for therapy coping with the trauma of '71 tragedy around the nation. I am not by any means against talking about it openly but we should be prudent about the choice of words and images that leaves imprints on the psyche of our fragile younger generation.

And it is only in the fourth stage, when a person has been healed completely (can one be healed completely? one cannot help but ask...) that it should be befell on them to impart the unspeakable history of the terror so that we never repeat the same 'mistake' twice. The last and vital step should always be from a foundation of strength and stronghold instead of the current state of affairs where it is always out of deep rooted anger, sadness, depression and violent resentment. In fact at current, we have the system completely backwards where instead of healing ourselves (the past generation that is) we make it a method to make sure all human infants are damn right aware of the incident because god forbid that they don't know "what we suffered".

The fact of the matter is, we do. We newer younger generation see the images everyday during 15, 16 and 21. We have not experienced the utter brutality, nor should we even live to that day where we have to. Although we didn't witness it firsthand, we know. We know, but the important question is: do you?

As mentioned beforehand, in our culture we really don't express and talk about our feelings and emotions and after repressing them in the shades of closet, they are manifested outwardly in violent outbursts, hacking of human corps and what not utter unspeakable brutality that gets to be perpetuated even more as more and more days progress.

This needs to be changed.
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