Published:  01:42 AM, 05 July 2018 Last Update: 01:48 AM, 05 July 2018

Days after cyclone

Days after cyclone

The sea beach is set to become vibrant with tourists, fishing boats and of course the glowing ray of setting sun that has painted everything red.Robin, a youth in his mid-twenties watches the sun set almost every day in a ritualistic manner.

While spending his time fixing his gaze on setting sun, he sometimes feels the urge of sharing his memories of childhood, his family whom he has left behind and his village where he spent his childhood. Each time he thinks about them he feels nostalgic about his past and feels the pain of not being able to share it.

Robin who hailed from southwest part of Bangladesh came to Cox's Bazar, the southeast part of Bangladesh around eight years ago with some fishermen to try and earn some money to help his family back in his village.  The area where he was born and brought up was very close to mangrove Sundarban.

His father used to work in Sundarban with forest resource collector groups and in such a voyage he went missing in the Sundarban rivers. Robin was then just six years old and has little memory about his father.

There was no compensation for the loss of the family's sole breadwinner from any side. Since then the struggle became integral part of his four members' family-Robin, his mother and two other younger brothers.

And in 2009 the mighty Cyclone Aila destroyed their homes and assets and forced them took shelter on the embankment. They became dependent on relief supports for living. But they wanted to live on their own capacity andRobinleft the area for a better earning for his families.

He came to Cox's Bazar, the famous tourist destination forsea beachwith some of his neighbors who used to work at shrimp hatcheries long before.His widower mother is still living on the embankment of the water development board with his two other brothers.

At work place Robin's hard work earned him praise and appreciation by all but his memory of those early days when he was less paid for not being native to the place did not fade away. His situation was bad as he did not have any local support who can plead his case for better salary.

During that time he got a friend Hasan, who became fortune for him in those difficult times.Hasan lives with his family at the foothills along the beach. The area is within the forestlands. Hasan and his family came from Kutubdia Islands after the devastating Cyclone of 1991. He was then two years old and cannot remember the days on his own.

"I just hear the stories of those days from my father and mother. We had crop lands, house, ponds, cattle but everything was washed away. We came here with some other relatives and managed to build makeshift house and since then we have been here," Recalls Hasan.

Hasan is the only person in Cox's Bazar with whom Robin can share his woes. "You are fortunate than me as you can live with your family but the situation is totally different for me. Who wants to be alone without a family in such a faraway place? But what should I do? We don't have better income sources in our locality, moreover the living condition is yet to improve," narrates Robin.

His two brothers struggle for a better income and cannot move to city or other place leaving their mother alone in the village. Their mother gets food supports from local union Parishad and sometimes from NGOs. But still these are not adequate compared to the needs of their family.

Robin gets accommodation facilities in his workplace but nights are mostly passed sleepless with a heavy mind filled with the tensions about his families.  During the storm and full moon nights his anxiety grapples him as the wind becomes stronger and the gushing water of the rivers touches the embankments. "What about our house Ammu? Is it strong enough to withstand strong wind and storm? Robin asked his mother over mobile phone.

His mother Aleya Banu, consoles him, "Don't worry about us? Take care of yourself. Aleya Banu knows how her son is struggling for them. Robin visits Hasan's house every week to get the smell of a family that he misses in his every breath. He manages permission from workplace to stay in Hasan's family. In a recent visit he came to know that they are getting eviction notice. But he was surprised to find Hasan and his family are hardly worried about it.

"We are habituated with it. Where will we go? We are uprooted from our birthplace and have no place on our own to live on. In this place we could manage an occupation to survive. Once we leave we will have to struggle for living," says Hasan. His father Mamun Khan whom Robin calls uncle, added, it's an endless journey for us to get a place for decent living.  We have to pay so many people for living here.

Robin has earmarked some money from his earning and plans for getting a piece of land here and to bring his mother and brothers to reunite the family. He expressed his wishes to his uncleMr. Mamun Khan but did not receive any support, Instead he is advised to go back to his family and do something in his locality.

"Son, family bonding is important to fight the difficult times and you will get them on your side and nobody else would help you in the time of distress. Moreover you are familiar with your area and you know your people better. Please go there to start a new life," Mr. Khan explains to Robin. Robin learns how to live in adverse situations with so many copings from his uncle. Robin gets his answer and decides to go back to his family.

After many days Robin has a sound sleep and dreams of a new life with a new home, family and a job. In the morning he get news of another disaster which is caused by rupture in the embankment in his locality and however this time he could gather courage to go back to his village to start for another struggle.


The writer is a development worker
and researcher. He can be reached at shekhar_ray@hotmail.com

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