Anwara (Satkhira, Bangladesh)

My family

Anwara's family was scattered after the partition (breaking up) of India in 1947 when East Bengalis started to come to India saying, 'This is our place; all Muslims should leave Hindustan and go to Pakistan'. Her first three children were born in India and her last four were born in East Pakistan.

My daughters, who are now grown up, do all kinds of work. One of my daughters' husbands is a travelling salesman who sells bangles, another is a cultivator who has a tiny patch of land - he also works on richer peoples' lands. My third daughter's husband died of an ulcer and my fourth daughter was abandoned by her husband; he does not provide for her and their little child so they live with me.

Sadly, Anwara's four sons have died.

You know, my eldest son was very hard working and always wanted to support us so he used to go to the river bank to catch fish and crabs. One afternoon, when it was hot and everybody was taking a nap, he took a container and walked towards the river to catch some food for the evening meal. He never returned. His body was found floating several villages down. The soil here is very slippery and he couldn't swim; he must have slipped and as it was the middle of the afternoon and everyone was indoors nobody saw him so he couldn't be rescued.

A few years after this, there was a cholera epidemic and people started dying around us. It was summer and there was very little water in the ponds. My husband had had an accident and so couldn't fetch wood from the forest to use as fuel so we couldn't boil the water and two of my other sons both caught cholera and died of diarrhoea.

My fourth son went with some neighbours to collect crabs and fish from the forest. They catch fish by tying a net along the banks. One side of the net started shaking so he went to see if something big had been caught while the other two men with him held the net on the other side. Suddenly, to everyone's surprise, a tiger jumped out of the forest straight onto my son and bit his neck. The boy went limp and the tiger just jumped back in the forest with him. The two shouted for help to try to get my son back but they were not able to. They had to abandon their search as it was monsoon time and they risked being attacked themselves. He was such a fine boy.



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