The 68-year-old freedom fighter is still enthusiastic, rushing to different educational institutions whenever invited to hold a lecture
From a distance, it looked like a classroom.
An elderly man with fat-rimmed glasses over his nose, was scribbling something on a white board hanging from a tree at Zainul Abedin park in Mymensingh city.
A group of people, some of them teenagers while others much older, sat under a tree listening to him.
There were some onlookers too, who passed them by and few would stand behind the crowd to satisfy their curiosity.
However, this was not a classroom – it was a lecture by Bimal Pal, a valiant freedom fighter, who has made it his mission to narrate stories of the Liberation War to the younger generation.
In 1971, Bimal was a 20-year-old man. He fought in the Telikhali battle of Haluaghat, which is still remembered amongst the greatest battles of war of 1971.
Even 48 years after liberating his country, the 68-year-old veteran still has vivid memories of the battles that he fought in Mymensingh.
"My storytelling journey began some five years ago. On June 9, 2014, I went to Bipin Park in the city to tell people about the sacrifices made by our citizens in 1971," Bimal told The Business Standard.
Momen, a local teenager, was his only companion in those days. The duo would go around the park recounting stories of the war. Soon, they became popular.
Subsequently, social organisation Chetona Shangsad came forward to support Bimal and managed a microphone and banner for him to continue his endeavours.
"The talks were formally inaugurated in the park by Ekramul Haque Titu, then mayor of Mymensingh municipality," Bimal said, adding that since the inauguration he has been holding talks every Friday and Saturday.
In the lectures, Bimal recalled the memories of the Telikhali battle. He spoke about how the freedom fighters killed over a hundred Pakistani soldiers and their accomplices.
He also narrated how the Mukti Bahini fought against and killed the military in Digharkanda and Sreebardi upazilas in Sherpur. He ended the lectures by recalling the war memories of Rangamati in Nalitabari.
In the last five years, he has narrated his war stories to students of over 100 schools and at over 200 public gatherings.
Shamima Tu Sabah Mugdho, a tenth grader at Vidyamoyee Government Girls' High School in Mymensingh, said that she and her friends have learned a lot about the history of Liberation War from the stories of Bimal.
"Due to our academic stress, we do not get enough time to read books on the Liberation War. Nobody even tells us stories. Only Bimal Pal came to our school and told us about the war."
Shafiqul Islam Mintu, ward councillor of Mymensingh City Corporation, said, "I am a regular visitor at the Zainul Udyan. Several times, I saw Bimal Pal there, holding lectures in the open about our Liberation War. I have joined the lectures several times."
Although the 68-year-old freedom fighter has gown old and weak now, his enthusiasm is still the same. Bimal rushes to different educational institutions whenever he is invited to hold a lecture.
"Earlier, I could carry a white board and a marker pen, but not anymore," Bimal said.
He also narrated a story to The Business Standard.
"The freedom fighters were prepared to attack and capture all the bunkers in Telikhali, which were occupied by Pakistani forces. It was almost dawn. The freedom fighters, including Shamsul Haque and teenage freedom fighter Idris, opened fire on the opponents. The battle started. Both sides were exchanging fire. At one point, a bullet pierced through Shamsul's elbow and hit Idris's chest. Idris wanted to say something, but could not. He died on the spot," Bimal recalled.
In the three-hour-battle, 29 freedom fighters including Idris and another 56 members of Indian allied forces were killed. Additionally, all the Pakistani soldiers except one, and two platoons of their aides were also gunned down, Bimal said.
"Haluaghat was freed from the Pakistani occupation on that very day," he added.
Bimal penned his first book "Rajar Pahar Juddho" describing the history of the war in Sherpur's Sreebardi. The handwritten book could not be published, so he made photocopies of it and distributed them among all.
Subsequently he borrowed Tk3 lakh from Sonali Bank and published three children's books on the Liberation War – Telikhali Juddho, Ekattorer Gonohotta: Pakistani style, and Chhotoder Muktijuddho O Bangabandhur Golpo.
He has been paying off the debt with the honorarium he receives as a freedom fighter from the government.
Bimal lives at Muktijoddha Polli in Mymensingh city. He has a bakery in the city's Thanar Ghat area, run by his two sons.
The freedom fighter believes that the history of the War of Independence should be discussed in schools, colleges and universities.
"Telling the true history of our Liberation War to next generation has made my life meaningful."