The elderly father of Shah Alam, one of the Bangladeshi workers killed in a furniture factory fire in Riyadh, wails at their village home in Kalipur of Comilla yesterday. Photo: Banglar Chokh
Pretty much all Bahauddin talked about over the phone from Riyadh with his wife was his 14-month-old son. He did the same on Monday afternoon, hours before his death.
"Take good care of him. I'm dying to see Abdullah. I hope to come home as soon as I'm done here," his wife Shahnaz Akter quoted him as saying over the phone when they had their last conversation.
Bahauddin, 26, went to Saudi Arabia five years ago. He was last home in 2012, when his wife was nine months' pregnant. He never got to see his son.
He was killed along with eight other Bangladeshis and two Indians in a fire at a furniture factory in Riyadh around 10:30pm (local time) Monday.
"He [Bahauddin] desperately wanted to come home and see his son. But he could not do so because of a Tk 5 lakh loan he had taken before going to Saudi Arabia," Shahnaz told The Daily Star over the phone.
Shahnaz, who sat for the Higher Secondary Certificate examinations this year, said her husband had inspired her to carry on with her studies.
"I don't know what I will do now. What will be my child's future," she said, adding that the family still had some loans to pay off.
Mohammad Jalal, Abdul Gaffar, Shah Alam, Nazir Hossain, Mohammad Selim, Motiur Rahman, Mohammad Akkas and Jakir Hossain were the other Bangladeshi victims, the first secretary (labour) at the Bangladesh embassy in Riyadh told The Daily Star over the phone yesterday.
While Akkas hailed from Madaripur and Jakir from Feni, the rest hailed from Titas, Homna and Meghna upazilas of Comilla
The four other Bangladeshi workers of the factory luckily escaped the fire at the small Titas Furnisher factory in Shifa Sanaya of Riyadh.
The bodies were in Somochi Hospital in Riyadh. They will be sent home after autopsies and other procedures, officials said. They said the embassy would take proper measures to realise damages from the factory owner.
The factory, owned by a Saudi national, was supervised by two Bangladeshis, Raju and Mainul. Raju fled the scene soon after the incident and Moinul is in Bangladesh on holiday, said Bangladesh embassy officials in Riyadh.
Abdul Gaffar, elder son of Setara Begum of Meghna upazila, moved to Saudi Arabia when he was just 16. He went there to ensure a better life for his eight-member family back home.
He could not come home for 10 years.
"I have not seen my son for the last 10 years. I will not be able to see him alive," she was telling her husband Nurul Islam.
The last time Setara talked to her son was on Monday.
Gaffar's father Nurul Islam told The Daily Star, "His mother told him to come home and get married. Gaffar promised to come within a month. Who knew his life would be cut short in this way?"
Shah Alam, 28, another victim from Titas upazila, had also spoken to his parents and newly married wife Rumi Akhter over the phone on Monday afternoon.
"He [Alam] wanted to send some money within a few days. He told me not to worry about him," Alam's father Hobi Mia said.
Alam came home in January and got married in March before leaving for Saudi Arabia. "I came to know about his death around 3:30am [early yesterday]. I have lost everything," Hobi said.
Losing her husband within four months of their marriage, Rumi could barely speak.