“Has Akhirat started?” There was no emotion in his voice when saying this, as he fully believed that he was in the after-life. It may sound like a good beginning of a piece of a fiction. But it wasn’t. It was the first words of a man after he was pulled out of the debris that had once been a nine-storey building and his place of work.
Three days back, this poor garment worker like all his colleagues had no choice other than come to the factory even after knowing that there had been cracks along the building and that it might collapse anytime. The factory owners paid no heed to the danger lurking for the poor workers, and finally the inevitable happened.
On Wednesday morning, the little-known Rana Plaza in Savar made headlines for most national and international online news portals shortly after it collapsed. The death toll started with five and kept rising and occasionally jumping before ending at nearly 400 several days afterwards.
Fragments were lying all across the site and at every possible angle. Brave hearts were there. Untrained volunteers along with fire service officials and others started the rescue operation. Perhaps each of the nearly 2,500 rescued from the rubble had horrible experiences to share. But the words that still ring in my ears are that of this man. He was rescued nearly three days after the country’s worst building collapse took place. One can only imagine the psychological trauma he had undergone during his ordeal.
Shortly after he was pulled out of the rubble, rescuers sprinkled water on his face. He regained consciousness and looked at the world that had once been known to him. He opened his eyes, and had no clue as to what was going around him. The stench of corpses filled the air. People were wailing after losing dear ones.
So many eyes were fixed upon him, and all the events happening around now appeared to take him to a world, unknown and mysterious. The very thought that crossed his mind was that he had died and had been shifted to the life after death.
These stories come, break every heart and then grudgingly give way to another. You weep, and you feel for those who had frantically gasped for a little air under the rubble. But what do you do or say when you hear someone muttering, “Has Akhirat started?”