The orange light bounces off the harmonium cover as it falls to the ground next to the instrument. Dalia pulls up a stool next to Shaheen, who now sits cross legged in front of the harmonium on the ground. They exchange a few words in Bangla, interspersing laughs with lyrics and remembrances, recalling song titles with memories from days of 1971 along the Indian border.
These two women, Dalia Nausheen and Shaheen Samad, both were part of the singing troupe who traveled around to Freedom Fighter and refugee camps in India, singing songs of freedom, or muktir gaan, for the women and men training for the war, providing medical and logistical support, and sheltering themselves and their families.
I recently spoke to them both about their experiences serving in the musical troupe, and at the end of the conversation they offered to sing a few songs that they carried with them during those nine months of war. Above, you find a short clip of one of the songs, Janater Sangram Cholbe Cholbe, by Sikander Abu Zafar. They were as articulate as their voices are stunning – as soon as I have some of the transcript transcribed, I’ll be sure to share some of the conversation here. For now, a little portrait of Dalia from before the song session.