In a mango orchard of Belpukur village under Puthia upazila on Thursday afternoon, Abdul Gaffar was taking bread by sitting at the foot of a mango tree in front of his shanty made of polythene and bamboo-sticks. His wife Safia Begum was sitting nearby.
Gaffar-Safia couple informed, they have no house, not even a fragment of land of their own, The polythene-wrapped shanty is the all they have as their family-home. The owner of the orchard Dulu Sheikh has graciously granted them to make the shanty two-year ago. Braving all odds-storm, rain and chill of winter, they used to live in this polythene wrapped 'home' as their only refuge.
Gaffar was born in Naodapara village of Tangon under Charghat upazila while Safia hails from Natore sadar upazila. Gaffar complains, his siblings deprived him of his father's property. Afterwards, he continued to live in the platforms of railway stations with his wife and children. Two of his sons are married and live separately. Two more of his son live at their grandma's house.
Having no ability to rent any house, Gaffar-Safia used to live beside railway stations, at the platforms and beside the road by making polythene tents. Two year ago, they reached to Belpukur area in search of work and made two shanties with bamboo sticks and polythene inside the mango orchard near Belpukur crossing. They used to live in one shanty and the other was used for storing fire-wood and dried-leaves.
Being informed, the owner of the mango orchard arrived on the spot and ordered them to remove the shanties. But, by watching their pitiable condition, the owner became kind and allowed them to keep one shanty and live there. And, after removing one shanty, Gaffar and Safia were happy to live in a single shanty. All the household items-cooking pots, plates, clothings etc. are kept under the same poly thene-made abode.
Gaffar informed, he used to work as a construction worker and used to visit the town by riding a bicycle. But, during the Corona pandemic, the construction works also remained suspended. Failing to manage any work, he started to work as a sweeper. Now, none of his familiar people wants to accompany him or to provide him with any work as he works as a petty job like sweeper.
Now, the situation has been improved and his wife Safia is pressing him to abandon the job of sweeper. But, Gaffar was reluctant to leave the work saying no work is futile. Anyone else has to do the job (of a sweeper) so where is the problem if he adopts the job of sweeping, he opined. Moreover, he said, what is the necessity of prestige while he has no room to live in?
Safia informed, the only asset they have is a bicycle. Having no proper place to keep the bicycle, they tied the bicycle with a rope and putting it beside the shanty outside, they tied the other part of the rope with the pillow they used to sleep at night. If any thief tries to steal the bicycle, they will feel the pull of the rope and will get awakened.
Sufia lamented, she has heard the government of Sheikh Hasina was making houses for the homeless people but no one pays a glace at them. ‘If we get a house, we'll no further need to live under polythene shed in the storms and in rain,' said she with a face full of glowing hope.
While taking the 'rroti' Gaffar said, he begged for some rice and bread from the house he had been working. After consuming one roti, three more were left. In a polythene bag, there was some rice and curry. Gaffar continues,' knowing there was no rice at home, I begged for the food from the house owner I had been working. Now, we shall eat those together. We are poor but we are happy and we have peace in mind. We never quarrel. We would like to spend the next days of our lives this way, even under the shade of the trees.'