Hasina Begum

Hasina Begum
Photo location: Bramanbaria , Bangladesh

A thousand words are not enough to describe my life and what I have been facing in this cursed land. We were born with the fate of victims. God gave cursed lives to those who were born in these northern coastal areas near the Sundarbans. He gave us nothing except sorrow and distress.  We live on government land. Every year, over and over again, a cyclone sweeps away everything that we were trying to build through the year. We do not possess fertile land to grow crops on.

To earn a living, people from our village go fishing or collect honey from the jungle. My husband used to fish in the forests of the Sundarbans. I lost him in that dangerous jungle five years ago. Lots of people get lost in that  jungle every year. I said to him thousands of times, “Please do not go in that hungry jungle.” But he never listened to me. That day, after starving the whole day, he got angry with me and asked, “Can you tell me how many days you can live without eating? Today I will fill my hungry stomach or the tiger will fill his stomach.” Then he left, taking his net with him. He never returned to us. Like me, lots of women from our village lost their husbands and sons. Many people could not return from the mouth of the hungry jungle filled with dangerous animals and pirates. Many women like me became widows. The local people refer to our village as ‘Widow Village.’

Our lives are more miserable than even anyone could imagine. God gave us nothing. We do not have a hut in which to sleep soundly every night with our daughters. Robbers and powerful wicked boys are the terror for the parents who have daughters in their homes. As far as the eyes can see, there is only water and water everywhere. But to quench our thirst with sweet drinking water, we have to cross a river and then walk dozens of miles every single day. This saline water is killing everything. The lands have become dry and now nothing grows here. The existing trees are dying because of salinity in the water and in the soil. We walk in a group when we go to collect water so that no one can harass the young women and girls.

I have two daughters. Like the dying leaves of the trees, my daughters are also turning pale without food and drinking water. The salt in the water is also robbing them of their beauty every day. My days are passing by only collecting water. I am so anxious when I come to collect water leaving my two daughters alone in my broken hut. We are living a penniless life fighting nature everyday against all odds. I don’t see a way out from this helpless life. I don’t know where to go and what to do. But I do desperately want to rescue my daughters’ lives and my life from this misery.

 Link to ‘Stories from Bangladesh’.