Salvation by Amputation
Planning never works for the wretched – Rozina Begum

Rozina (24), New Wave Bottom Ltd, Third Floor, Sewing Operator, B-line

© Taslima Akhter

11 April, 2014

Translation Prithvi Shams

Rozina is around 25 years old, the eldest of 5 siblings. She attended school upto Grade 5. Of her two younger brothers, the elder Azharul studies Hifz in a madrasah while Mizanur was in Grade 6. Her younger sister Rezia was married off early, her another sister Morzina also worked at Rana Plaza. She was not found after the collapse. The first DNA report traced her to a grave in Juraine((জুরাইন). Currently, her seven year old daughter goes to school, her father and husband pull rickshaws. Her husband also sews sacks of rice and paddy for a living. Rozina says, poverty led her to a job at the garments factory at the age of 13 or 14. That was the end of her of education. She worked at Al Muslim for the first 6/7 years. Then she took up the job at Rana Plaza.

She said, “I was trapped inside for 3 days. As usual, I left my daughter with my mom at 7:30 and reached the office at 8:05. I worked at new wave on the third floor as a sewing operator. On sighting a crack in the structure, the factory was declared closed after lunch the day before. The office informed us that we would resume our work after the crack was repaired. We were supposed to be paid and granted leave the next day. When I went to the office, I saw another crack on the floor. I didn’t sit down to work, I argued with the PM ; I was standing by the machine. At that moment, the power went out. Darkness all around, I couldn’t see anything. The girl beside me had perhaps left at that moment. When I was stuck inside, my leg was hanging out. There was a nupur on my ankle. I had fondly crafted that silver nupur. The rescue workers saw my feet and realized I was alive.

Rozina further said, “Three men were alive beside me at that time. One of them died within two days, the rest were rescued later on. About 10-12 corpses were lying around, they died instantaneously.” “On the second day, I was given some water to drink. I didn’t feel like eating anything else. Besides, I couldn’t even squirm. My whole body was stuck, except my hand. I tried calling people, but there was no network. In the light of my phone, I saw that my hand was squashed beneath machine-rod-pillar. There were more rods on my body. I was wet with others’ blood. I couldn’t move. There were some corpses beside me. Rescue workers tried pulling me out by my leg, unsuccessfully. A doctor tried to pull me out by cutting off my hand, he failed as well. It was because they couldn’t get inside. My hands were cut and torn under the overlying wet; I was bleeding for two days straight. At one point, I even asked them for a saw so that I could cut off my hand and get myself out. I realized it was the only way I’d live. Where’s my sister Morzina? I only worried about her inside. I thought I’d look for her once I get out. I asked some people around me to go look for her.

In the meantime, the pain was getting unbearable. I put my cellphone in my mouth and guided the saw towards my right arm with the light. At first, the blade didn’t sink in. Then my muscles gave way, but not my bones. I wasn’t afraid back then, I only cared about getting out. My hand was finally severed. They took me to CMH at first, then to Dhaka Medical College. I was in CRP for 3.5 months. The only way I could discriminate between night and day was by the sound of adhaan.” Rozina was asked, “Now that you’ve got some money, what will you do?” She said, “I’ll go back home. And I’ve decided to stay there.” “When you began work at the factory, what did you plan for your future?” Rozina answered, “What plan? What does a poor woman do with plans! Planning never works out for the wretched. I didn’t plan to work at a garments factory!” “Why would you leave Dhaka?” She answered, “Dhaka is too expensive. The rent is high. I can’t even afford to pay my daughter’s tuition. That’s why I will go home. I will bring up my child properly. I’d do it so that I’ll never have to work again. I will live a good life.”

Rozina’s hands have been amputated. Having been treated at CMH for 3-4 months, she’s now renting an apartment in Savar with her husband and kids. With the burden of the family on her shoulder, a disabled woman, she goes on planning her future, in spite of knowing that planning won’t work. The State cannot escape its obligation towards these wronged workers.

Rozina (24)
New Wave Bottom Ltd, Third Floor, Sewing Operator, B-line
Mother: Fatema Begum, Father: Safur Uddin, Husband: Saidul Islam
District: Mymensingh

Dipok Ray
Central Member, Bangladesh Garment Sramik Shanghati