Even before the liberation war began in 1971, the political turf was already tense and those who were embroiled in politics were hard put to find a place to get together to determine the fate of the nation. It was in this context that Hamidur Rahman, the then treasurer of Bangladesh Awami League, came to rescue by providing a covert meeting place in his residence in Fatullah. His residence served as a regular hideout for the Awami League leaders.
Situated on the Buriganga River, the house in Fatullah, Narayanganj, was the perfect place to have secret meetings by Awami League leaders.
Including the house, its 23,790 square feet premises is now being redesigned and the two main buildings are being restructured into a museum – Hamidur Rahman memorial complex.
As a witness to many historic meetings and convergence of minds in the pre-liberation period, the site is being revamped by none other than Marina Tabassum, the Aga Khan Award-winning architect of the Baitur Rauf Jame Masjid.
While talking about the project, Architect Marina Tabassum said, "I came to know that this riverside house was built during the 1960s by Hamidur Rahman. Back then, there were plenty of trees here. When we started working, the riverside was not in a state of renovation as the building's foundation was in a poor state."
"The idea of the museum came in mind when we learnt about the historical significance of this place, which, like Enthekhabul, Hamidur Ramna's younger son, and I also think that people ought to know about," explained Marina.
Keeping all these in mind, the entire site is now being decorated from an aesthetical point of view.
Some extra blocks have been added and a small garden like space along with a pavilion has been designed so that the river and the building easily merge.
According to Marina, "Everything is complete except for the landscaping. We are now planning with artist Wakilur Rahman about how the museum space can be organised and how it can be lent a historical aura."
Reaching the site was also an enjoyable experience for all. It took us less than an hour two reach Fatullah from Dhaka. The main road led to a narrow lane on the right side of the adjoining Shibu Market.
Amidst the dense clouds of dust and pungent smell of chemicals of the factories nearby, we reached the office of Hamid Sweater Ltd. The museum is being built right beside it.
Enthekhabul Hamid, managing director of Hamid Sweater Ltd, told The Business Standard, "Many notable incidents, including Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's visit, took place in this house. Prominent political leaders frequented this place."
"Since my father was treasurer of the then running committee of Awami League, countless meetings were held here," he said.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had visited this house several times.
A proud Enthekhabul added, "One of the drafts of our country's constitution was also prepared here."
A hub of many memories and historical significances, this house was turned into a military camp during the Liberation War after the family had sought refuge in Kolkata.
To preserve its memories, the decision to build 'Hamidur Rahman Memorial Complex', while keeping the essence of the house intact, was taken in cooperation with Marina Tabassum Architects.
The main space, which is being prepared for the museum, will stay at the right side of the factory's gate. A team of expert architects and labourers are currently working on a facelift job of the entire space according to a plan.
The idea is to give visitors the feeling of coming back to their village homes. The wide premise surrounded by trees, has already created a tranquil atmosphere with sunrays peeping through the leaves and birds chirping everywhere.
There will be five specific portions of the site. The gatehouse will be used as the entrance, the middle structure will serve as a lounge for visitors, the villa will be a rest house, and the old building will be the main museum while the graveyard of Hamidur Rahman will be a space for visiting and praying.
The two-storeyed old building has two wide terracotta verandas at the front side of each floor. The plan is to develop and redesign the whole space so that schools can arrange for small study tours here.
The museum will hopefully be opened to all by February 21, 2020.