This poem was written as a response to the Rana Plaza collapse
when someone asked me
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
i reflected, do i not remember?
how could i not?
more than 1,100
over 2,000 injured
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.
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
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
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
inside and out.
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.