Fatema Begum

Fatema Begum
Photo location: Voirob , Bangladesh

I have no one. I am alone in this world now. For the last 10 years I have been living alone only remembering that day. For my one and only wrong decision, I lost my whole family in the horrifying 15 November Cyclone Sidr. I don’t know what I should call it – good luck or bad luck.  I am the only one in my family to have survived by holding onto the last tree in our village! I can’t forget how the next morning I was searching for my loved ones and lining up the dead bodies one by one. I lost my two daughters, my only son and my husband that night. I can’t forget losing everything; all my cattle were floating away like water lilies in the cyclone water.  The water took away everything from me. 

I am from Pathorghata Borguna. There, every year we faced big and small cyclones. But in 2010 even in my worst dreams I never thought this would happen. My daughters asked me while holding onto me tightly several times “Ma, it’s a number 10 warning signal and they are announcing it again and again. Ma, we are feeling really afraid. Let’s go to the cyclone center.” But I am a foolish woman. I did not listen to them.  I did not listen to my husband either because I thought nothing would happen. I was feeling very lethargic and did not want to take everything with us to the cyclone center.  I thought like the many storms before, that the cyclone would pass and nothing would happen. For my obstinate decision of that cursed night I had to bury them alone the next day. I had to take out a loan from my villagers to burying my family members because I lost everything in the cyclone. I have only the sari I was wearing that night. I starved under a tree by the side of a tree for several miserable nights. 

I could not bear it, but I had to come here for searching food to stay alive with my other villagers. When you are alive, your stomach hurts for food. For the sake of this stomach I had to come here. But it’s a very difficult job that I have been doing for the last 10 years in order to survive. But now I know there is nothing too difficult for the poor.  When coming here I took a 20-thousand taka advance from the owners and I have been returning this money for the last ten years. We get a very little amount of money: only 60 taka for a long day’s work when we finish drying one field of rice. Sometimes when it’s the rainy season or the sun doesn’t show up, it takes three-four days to finish drying one field of rice for 60 taka. The owners take the loan money out plus interest.  They give us rice but we have to buy vegetables from our money so we have take out more loans from the owners. I became their slave for 20 thousand taka and this is how my life will end: working here day after day.

 Link to ‘Stories from Bangladesh’.