Looking back

“Tensions loomed before Russel’s birth. Kamal, Jamal, Rehana, Khoka uncle and I, were at home. Ma was with Boro Fupu and Mejo Fupu (paternal aunts). A doctor and a nurse came along with. Time seemed to had stopped. Jamal and Rehana kept on falling asleep only to wake up again. We stayed awake the entire night to welcome the youngest member of family. Mejo Fupu came out with news. We had a baby brother. Our joys knew no bounds. We couldn’t wait to see our baby brother. Mejo Fupu said she would call. Soon our wait came to an end. Boro Fupu placed him in my lap. A head full of thick black hair, fluffy fluffy cheeks, Russel was quite the healthy child.”
Source: Sheikh Hasina, ‘Amader Choto Russel Shona’


Russel would never want to leave his father during his prison visits. He used to be very upset when he had to leave. Bangabandhu wrote about Russel in his Karagarer Rojnamcha (prison diaries), on 15 June 1966 “18-month-old Russel wouldn’t smile after coming to the jail office, till he sees me. Just like in the past, saw him shouting “Abba! Abba!” from far away. A truck full of goods was entering through the jail gate. So, I stood at the window and caressed him. A truck full of goods was entering through the jail gate. So I stood at the window and caressed him. As soon as I entered the room, Russel grabbed me by my neck and smiled. They said he would stare at the window till I had arrived, saying “Abbar bari”. He thought this was his father’s home. I have to trick him when it’s time to go.”


Among other topics, Bangabandhu wrote about Russel in his Karagarer Rojnamcha (prison diaries) on April 14-15, 1967 “When I arrived at the prison gate, I was surprised to see that little Russel was not standing outside”. When I entered the room and took him in my lap, he held me by my neck and called me “Abba! Abba!” a few times; and then went to his mother’s lap and started calling his mother “Abba! Abba!”. I asked “What is the matter?” His mother said, “At home, he keeps on crying saying “Abba! Abba!”. So, I told him to call me Abba”. Russel again started calling his mother “Abba! Abba!”. No matter how much I answered his call, he would bury his face in his mother’s shoulder saying, “You’re my Abba!”. It seems that he is upset with me. He no longer wants to take me with him when he leaves.”


In 1971, Russel and his family, including his mother and two sisters, were imprisoned in a house on Dhanmondi, road No. 18. His father Bangabandhu was imprisoned in a jail in Pakistan and his two elder brothers Sheikh Kamal and Sheikh Jamal had gone to fight in the liberation war. He was released on December 16, 1971, along with his mother, sisters and other family members. Russel came out of the house saying 'Joy Bangla'. Victory celebrations were going on out there.


On the dark night of 15 August 1975, Sheikh Russel along with his family members, was assassinated as a result of domestic and foreign conspiracy. He was then only a student of grade 4 of University Laboratory School.

Dear Little Russel

Sheikh Russel: A Tale of Imprisonment Before He Could Turn Seven

Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib, the beloved wife of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, said angrily in the middle of 1966, “The detectives tailed the father not before he was 28, but his son was followed when he was just one and half years old.”
The context was- Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was arrested at the late of night on May 8, 1966 under the Pakistan Defense Act.The allegation was serious- by providing six points of autonomy, he was practically trying to establish a state of Bengalis by dividing Pakistan into two. This was not the first time he got arrested.


Dear Little Russel

A Growing Russel

From the beginning of his life, Russel became accustomed to living in a political environment due to his family. In the book ‘Amader Choto Russel Shona’, Sheikh Hasina has written, “Russel was quite cautious but brave in his movements. He barely got scared of anything. He tried catching giant black ants when he saw them. One day, he caught a giant black ant, and instantly the ant bit his hand. Blood came out from his little right finger. We gave him medicine immediately. But the finger got swollen. Only after that incident did he stop chasing those ants. But he did give those ants a name. After that incident, he started calling those ants ‘Bhutto’.

Dear Little Russel

The Big-Hearted Russel

‘Our mother used to wake up early at dawn. She would take Russel downstairs on her lap and feed the pigeons with her own hands. From the moment he learned to walk, Russel would run after the pigeons, feeding them with his own hands. There were pigeons in our village house as well. Everyone used to eat pigeon meat. Especially during the rainy season, when most places were submerged, there was a severe shortage of vegetables and fishes. At that time, it was often a tradition to eat pigeons. Besides, if someone got sick, they would feed pigeon meat broth to them… But Russel would not eat pigeon meat. We tried many ways to feed him pigeon meat. Every time we tried to feed him, he would turn his face away… how could he have realized at that age that he had been given pigeon meat! '

Dear Little Russel

The Hospitable Russel

‘… after independence, a lady was hired as Russel’s teacher. Teaching his was not an easy task. The teacher had to listen to him. Every day the teacher had to eat two sweets. He would not sit to study without her eating those sweets. So, the teacher had to eat first. Moreover, he always tried to ensure that his teacher did not have any difficulty. Russel loved to entertain people.’

Dear Little Russel

“Abba!” This Was How Russel Addressed Our Mother

‘We used to go to see our father every 15 days. If Russel was with us, he wouldn’t want to come back home. He would burst into tears. He was told that our father’s house was a prison and we only went to visit. We had to return home. Bringing him back home was not easy. We could understand the state our father went through. When he would cry at home for our father, our mother would console him. She taught him to call her ‘Abba’. Since then, Russel would call her Abba.’