Shanta Akhter (17), Sewing operator, Line-c/d, 6th Floor, New Wave Styles ltd

Missing: Shanta Akhter, 17

By Ayon Rehal

February 25,2014

Translation Akram Hossain

A passport sized photograph hanging on the damp wall reminds everyone of Shanta. Three phases of DNA sampling could not identify her body. Shanta and her little brother lived with their mother Shahida Begum at Chapain area of Dagormora (confirm address). Shanta had been the breadwinner of the family since her father died six years ago (which year?). She also paid for her brother’s schooling.

Shahida Begum served scrambled eggs, bean and dal for breakfast on the fateful morning of April 24. Although Shanta never wasted food, she stopped eating halfway through the meal and sat at the table silently. “Won’t you eat anymore?” her mother asked. “I’m feeling a little scared. I have a bad feeling,” she told her mother. Shahida asked her not to go to work. But Shanta had no choice: she would either get fired or at least lose a day’s wage if she didn’t go to work. “No I’ll go. Whatever happens to others will happen to me,” Shanta told her mother. She put on a red kamiz and a black salwar her aunt gave her on some occasion and left for work.

After hearing about the collapse of Rana Plaza, she went to the spot running frantically. But she could not go near the spot because of the crowd. She could see bleeding workers and dead bodies being brought out of the collapsed building. She let out a scream and lost her consciousness. She gained her consciousness when some people sprinkled some water on her face. People asked her whether there was somebody with her or she was alone. Shahida had no idea she would have to be so lonely after that day.

She has been looking for her daughter since April 24. She doesn’t know how long it’ll take for her to find her. Shanta was 18 at the time. Her mother doesn’t have any picture of Shanta but the faded passport sized photo on the wall of her one room dwelling. The photo was actually cropped from a picture of Shnata and her brother. She had to cut her brother out of the picture when her employers wanted her passport size photograph. The emulsion near her face was gone. This damp and faded picture is the most loved object in Shahida’s life now. It bears many of her valued memories.

Missing: Shanta Akhter (17)
Sewing operator, 6th Floor, Line-c/d, New Wave Styles ltd
Mother: Shahida Father: Afzal Hossain
Hajaribag, Post Office: New Market
District: Dhaka