Parvin Akter

Photo Location: Ashuganj, Bangladesh

We have been born with the fate of uncertainty. Every year we live, we live with the power of our fate. As each year passes by and we count ourselves fortunate; we count each new breath as good luck. The year of Cyclone Aila in 2009 was the curse of my life. We lost the only tree over our head. I lost my husband in the cyclone. No one could find the body of my husband for us to see him for one last time. Can you imagine how unfortunate we have been?

For the last six years I have been fighting uncountable complications with my four daughters. People say daughters are blessings, but for me daughters are dangers no matter how beautiful and moderate they are. There is danger in everything and it’s worse when you are poor and homeless. I had never thought it would be such a challenge to marry my beautiful daughters. Whenever I used to worry about them my husband would say, “Why are you so tense? The boys will fly to take those angels away.” But like everything else the salty water stole my daughters’ beauty.

I came here from Shatkhira, Munshiganj with my two unmarried daughters two years prior. Who wants to leave their birthplace and come here? But I have been obliged for the sake of my daughters’ lives and futures. My daughters had to walk uncountable miles every day for drinking water. If it’s so difficult to find enough drinking water just to survive, can you imagine how hard it has been to obtain fresh water for my girls to showers? So they have showered in the salt water, which is very bad for our skin. It itches. It was a nightmare when my girls got their periods. I couldn’t bear their crying every month. The land gave us nothing but dead hopes. We couldn’t grow crops because of the cursed salt water. We couldn’t provide drinking water for our cattle. With no source of income, we couldn’t live there. Must I remain because it is my homeland even when my homeland is not able to feed me?

I moved to this rice field two years ago with others from my village. I had to take an advance of 50 thousand taka from my manager. With that money I repaid the loan I had taken to feed my children throughout the years since cyclone Aila. It may take me one more year to repay the loan to my manager. Our work here is very hard but at least I can drink water whenever I feel thirsty and I can feed my children every day. We don’t need to starve day after day. I don’t have to listen to my children crying for water and food. Sometimes at night I remember tearfully the joy of earlier days. But I force myself to go to sleep, in order to be ready the next day for the reality of life.