Nazma Begum was sitting beside an electricity pole on the footpath of Minto Road in the capital with a large-size plastic bag full of surgical masks. She was accompanied by her five-year-old daughter Dolon.
She was not moving here and there or requesting anyone to buy masks from her. Rather she was waiting for customer.It was quite clear that Nazma, 35, was not habituated to sell anything on the street.
When asked about her situation, she felt shy and did not want to share her story initially. But later, she said how coronavirus outbreak affected her life once and for all.
“Before the latest phase of lockdown, I was a housewife and my husband did a job to manage all expenses of our small family. But the deadly virus has changed everything for us. My husband lost his job as he fell sick,” Nazma said in her calm voice.
Nazma had little savings which she spent for her husband’s treatment and survival during the initial days of lockdown. And she soon came to realise that she has to do something of her own to run her family.
Nazma said, “No one knows what Allah has written in our fate. I have to take care of my sick husband and feed my tender-aged daughter. If I can help them survive this tough time, I would be able to arrange money for my husband’s treatment in the future...In sha Allah.”
The economic shock induced by the pandemic has pushed many people into poverty in the last one year and forced many of them to choose begging.But Nazma has no reason to follow them. She found her own way of survival by selling masks in different Dhaka streets.
Spirited Nazma said, “Allah has given me a pair of hands and legs to work with. Then why should I beg? If I beg on street, it will disgrace me and my family.”
“I sell masks. The little amount of money I earn from doing it makes sure that my family members don’t go hungry,” she added.
One day the hard days of pandemic will be over but these stories of survival will remain there in people’s life. And they will never lose hope during tough time remembering these anecdotes.