Mariam Akter snapped at her husband for the way he was combing her long, unkempt hair. Her spouse, Hamidul Islam, propped up her head and began combing, now softly.
“This is the first time I tried to help her brush her hair,” said Hamidul, standing next to Mariam’s bed at Pongu hospital, where Mariam and 105 other survivors of the Rana Plaza disaster are being treated.
Hamidul feels lucky that Mariam has survived the collapse that killed more than 1,000 people and injured scores, many of them maimed for life.
Mariam worked as a helper at a garment factory on the third floor of the nine-storey building, and has had her right arm and leg broken in the collapse.
Relatives of other injured were also seen taking care of their loved ones on Sunday evening. Every bed at wards C and D of the hospital is occupied by the victims of the April 24 tragedy, bearing testimony to the greed and callousness of some factory and building owners.
All around the room in these wards, wounded workers lay bandaged or amputated. Some will never walk again normally.
“We tried our best to save her legs while rescuing her. But we could not,” said Mosharraf Hossain, a relative of another survivor, Rebecca, who was rescued two days after the collapse.
Her legs had to be amputated from hips in the left and ankle in the right after she was admitted to the hospital. She will take a long time to recover and now looks to a bleak future.
“A beam fell on the lower part of her body, causing an infection in her thigh. That’s why they had to be cut off,” said Hossain, running his fingers through Rebecca’s hair to help her sleep.
Seven members of her family worked in different factories in Rana Plaza that housed five garment units on its top floors.
“So far, we’ve found Rebecca and her aunt. We’re yet to find her mother and the others,” Hossain added.
Shamsul Alam, who worked as a quality inspector at New Wave Style Ltd, suffered a similar fate.
He along with two of his friends joined the factory last month after passing their higher secondary exams.
The two friends are dead. Alam survived, but the lower part of his body has become numb and he broke his right arm.
“My feet feel numb and I’m afraid I won’t get back to a normal life,” said Alam.
He was rescued on the day of the collapse. On April 26, he was shifted from Enam medical to Pongu hospital in the capital’s Agargaon.
Shamsul said he had joined the work to run his family and support his education.
Despite everything that has happened to Mariam, Rebecca, Alam and the other victims, the greatest respite has been the financial support they are getting for their treatment.
“Many people have come to us with help. We’re getting the medicine from the hospital and the doctors and the nurses are taking good care of us,” said Manjil, father of an injured worker.