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more than 1,100; April 24, 2013

  • Published at 05:08 pm May 14th, 2018
  • Last updated at 12:22 pm May 15th, 2018
Rana Plaza collapse memorial - April 24, 2014 | Photo: Syed Zakir Hossain
Photo: Syed Zakir Hossain

This poem was written as a response to the Rana Plaza collapse

last year

when someone asked me

about today

i could not give her the date


she said, oh then you don't remember

as someone else

nudged her a sarcastic nudge

terming me “bechari”

middle-class pride of better-than’ing others, as if this deserved a medal. 


while all of these mundane

things happened,

i reflected, do i not remember?

how could i not?

more than 1,100 

dead; killed

over 2,000 injured

workers

garment workers—


the numbers were also confused.


but i wasn't confused about today

i remember counting my breaths

as we got calls from reporters 

on the ground

every ring, every caller

updating the number of deaths

tolling on our psyche, seemingly.


i remember 

eyes

melting drops of grief – 

somewhat detached for some, somewhat not for many..

that grief grieved for others.


i remember rescuers, leaving everything behind

in the hope of finding life

in the wreckage

of the graveyard

that was this eight-storey building


collapsed – 


there was an echo


i remember Shahina, 

i wrote of her death

Shahina, Shaheena, Sahina

all spelled her named desperately

the "lone garment worker" who wanted to live.


she held on –

a roof beam, or was it a fallen pillar that trapped her?


for four days, she held on..

she said, she wanted to live

hold and see her son Robin

there was

a sudden fire

a sudden smoke

then she was silent, the echo now lived in the heads of the rescuers –

they tried, but couldn’t save her.

 

i remember these names, may be a few others.


i remember survivors, i remember reading 

about them, staring at their photographs

on the same day, years after

damaged, broken

inside and out.


i remember

going back to the place

that was Rana Plaza 

two years after, or was it three?

on this day.


there were still ruins of so many dead

there were still families helplessly holding up

photographs of their loved ones; lost


a woman came up to me, asked me where her daughter was…

she asked how could her daughter be still missing

i told her i didn’t have the answer

she sobbed, i stood there; 

another man, wordless

held up a photograph, tirelessly with tired eyes.


today, the newspaper reads:

the victims and their families are still waiting for justice

the trial proceedings are yet to start; Sohel Rana in jail, most out on bail, etc.


i still remember some of their faces, the ones who lost, the ones who were lost

five years on… once in a while; today.


(Written on April 24, 2018)



The poet is also a journalist at Dhaka Tribune.

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