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A Freedom Fighter's Daughter

What does it mean to be the child of a revolutionary?


It means upholding the ideals that gave us independent #Bangladesh. It means practicing a common belief in #equality. It means thinking all day everyday about everything under the sun and following up on every thought and idea. It means being angry at #injustice and never settling for mediocrity. It means breaking out of the box you were forced to be in, it means questioning the very box. It means daring to do what no commoner can think of. It means dreaming through disappointment.


To quote Lil Wayne, I be stunting like my daddy.

Today and everyday, let's remember those who sacrificed everything for a free Bangladesh. Let their blood run through our veins, let their courage be a reminder for us to always speak up for what's right. It is with utmost pride when I say to this world, I was born in a democratic Bangladesh from the legendary sperm of a guerrilla freedom fighter.

Joy Bangla.

Joy Bongobondhu.

1971
Mixed Media on Canvas

6' x 4.5'

2018

1971_Rohena Alam Khan.jpg

A few afterthoughts while I was home in Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2019:

We’re all having jetlag so last night we went to see my Kamran Chacha (Chacha means uncle in Bengali, he’s my dad’s youngest brother) at midnight. We were hanging out when my dad reminded everyone how we were all able to immigrate to America because of my Kamran Chacha, because of his one decision to go to USC in the early 70s. Then Kamran Chacha told my dad, whenever he would go through something real tough in America, he would think about my dad. He said “I’d remind myself of Dada and think about whose brother I am, আমি কার ভাই? And that would give me strength to face what was coming my way. It helped me go through a lot.”

 

In the book Roots by Alex Haley, Kunta Kinte would always remind his daughter Kizzy to never forget their ancestry. To always remember that they were the children of warriors and no matter what the present (their present was slavery in the Deep South), they must always remember who they are and where they came from. This is something that has deeply resonated with me over the years during my own immigrant struggles.


Kamran Chacha and I are different generations of immigrants facing the same issues. Finding strength in our roots and in our DNA is #modernBangladesh.

A few afterthoughts from 2022:

In 2019, I moved into an artist-only residence that is subsidized by the city of Seattle. The city subsidizes this building so that artists can thrive in a large, creative live-in space and create more art in Seattle without having to pay with an arm and a leg for a studio space.

 

Everyone in this building is an artist (musicians, dancers, playwrights, photojournalists, painters like myself and more). The building's walls are covered with art from residents, present and past. There are barely any walls that don't adorn any art. As artists, we respect other artists and the artwork they make, regardless of if we "like" the subject matter or not.
 

Of all the artwork in this building (there are hundreds), this painting was desecrated in 2021. It was torn off the wall, missing for 48 hours, after which it was found crumpled and destroyed in a store-room on the 4th floor. 
 

Who had done this? And why? Was this painting triggering to this person? Was this a message? What does this message mean? 

I grew flowers in my compost bin
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Kamari Bright with 1971
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Compost bin flowers and 1971
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1971 and I
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Parents with 1971
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Abbu with 1971
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Ripped from the stairwell
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How it was found
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1971 in Bangladesh
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How it was found

To learn more about my father's fight to freedom, check out the links below:

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