Ruby Begum

Ruby Begum
Photo location: Dhaka, Bangladesh

I have always known that ‘water is life’ but this water has been killing us for the last 10 years. This water never gives us any peace. I am from a coastal village. We moved here because of yearly river erosion. If there is a fire in your house, only the house gets burned; the land remains.  But when there is river erosion, everything is lost. We lost everything  six times while living in my father-in-law’s house after our marriage . We have nothing left now. We came here and started life with only a few clothes and took out a 2000 taka loan from my sister-in-law.

Life is very hard here and our poverty is only increasing. We are waterlogged for almost the entire year.  We have thousands’ of problems here. Which one should I tell you about and which one should I skip? Everyone here is becoming a beggar and only buying medicine for waterborne diseases for their family members. We have to spend more than we earn every day. Every night this slum becomes like a howling hell.  All the children start crying when they go to sleep because of the pain of their infected feet caused by walking the whole day in this muddy water.  We elderly people can tolerate most pain but the innocent children don’t understand that they are poor and should not cry about pain.

 I came here with only one child and now I have 4 children. My husband is the only worker from our family. I can’t go to work leaving my children here in this unsafe slum.  I have three daughters and almost every day in our slum, girls are getting raped.  

For those with only one income earner, it’s very difficult for them to maintain a family and feed six mouths daily. Life becomes painful. It’s as if we are gasping for our last breath every day.  In our village life was so beautiful like in dreams. My children have never seen a village in their entire lives. I sometimes tell them stories of my childhood and our village. They listen to me as if I am telling them fairy tales. They want to go there to visit. But there is nothing left in our village anymore except the name. Now everything is under water. I heard most of my village people moved to Dhaka already. We all know there are two things in this world, ‘Heaven and Hell’. When I was at home in my village with my neighbors and everyone else, I used to feel like I was living in Heaven. Now it feels like we are living in Hell. We have cried so much already, but you know there is no end to our crying.

Link to ‘Stories from Bangladesh’.