A day labourer, Kachu Sheikh left his home for work near a train station on 20 April 1971. He did not know it was the last time he would say goodbye to his wife and two children.
On the way, Pakistani Army personnel held him and shot him dead. Since then, every day was a day of grief, loss and misery for his family who had no land and no one else to depend on.
Kachu Sheikh was one of the martyrs of the nine-month-long war. He could have slipped into oblivion just like many hundreds of thousands of others had a stamp collector not been interested in purchasing old letters.
The letters had been sent to the prime minister's secretariat when Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was the head of the state, but ended up in the hands of stamp collectors about a decade later when the Hussain Muhammad Ershad-led government decided to destroy them.
The letters remain a part of an unfinished endeavour to document the grief and loss people endured for independence, for a new country born out of Pakistan.
A book written by Siddique Mahmudur Rahman has brought to light some of the stories that were never told. The book was published last year.
The publication is centred on an initiative undertaken after Bangabandhu took the helm of the nation to rebuild it from the ravages left by the war. He ordered that a list of those who had been killed and wounded, as well as those who had gone missing, during the bloody war, be compiled.
For the purpose, envelopes were printed with "description of killed, injured and missing people" inscribed on them, so that families of the victims could send in letters with information about their loved ones. A special form was attached with each envelope to be filled in with the name of the victim, his or her spouse, children and parents, and details of the person who wrote the letter.
Examining one such form from a stamp collector, the writer found that initially about two lakh envelopes of the kind were distributed across the country. But soon, all envelopes ran out as letters had poured into the prime minister's secretariat from different regions of the country.
Then, the government issued printed labels to be pasted on any envelope to mail letters. When they also fell short of the demand, people were allowed to use any envelope to send information about whom they had lost in the war or those who had survived the war with injuries.
In a recent interview with The Business Standard, Siddique, writer of the book "Tears of the Miserable Days," published in Bangla, said about 15-20 stamp collectors still preserve thousands of these letters.
"Coming across the letters, one realises that not a single village was left unscathed. There was no place where no one was killed, injured or raped in 1971," he said.
Someone close to Kachu Sheikh wrote about his sad demise in a letter sent in August 1972.
But the letter did not draw the stamp collector's attention as much as the envelope because on it was a summary of the details given in the letter. Like this case, most envelopes offered a summary of the messages given inside.
The writer called them "descriptive covers" that laid bare the wounds of the nation.
He assumed that since a large section of the people of the newly born country were uneducated, they must have thought a brief description on the envelope would encourage the prime minister to read the letter.
One such envelope said the missing person was a man, medium built with dark complexion; he had been a special worker of the Awami League and made special contributions.
Decades later, a stamp collector found it a treasure to wonder about the man named Abul Khayer, son of Badu Molla.
"These [letters] are significant pieces of our history. Research should be done [on them] to bring to light people's sacrifices during their journey to independence. It may result in documentation to be preserved in a museum for generations to see," said Siddique.