After her son was released from the police station, the mother asked him, “Did they hurt you, did they rough you up?”
80-year-old Shomola Bibi’s four sons had kept her in a cowshed outside their house for nearly two years and police had detained one of them, Helal Uddin, 45, for reckless endangerment of the elderly woman. But, driven by motherly instinct, all she could think of was her son’s wellbeing.
After her husband remarried and left her penniless 40 years ago, Shomola Bibi carried out the responsibility of rearing all her eight children by herself. She did all she could for her four sons, who are all grown up now, and married off her four daughters.
But in return, none of the sons could spare her a room inside any of their houses. After being moved around from house of one son to another, she was finally put in their cowshed in Shahedol Dakkhinpara village under Hossainpur upazila of Kishoreganj.
About a year ago, one of her daughters, Noorjahan Begum, went to visit her mother at Helal’s house from Dhaka and found out that their mother was being kept in a cowshed that did not even have any electrical light, while the bed she was given was broken down and without any mattress.
Appalled by the findings, Noorjahan confronted her brothers and asked them to bring their mother inside their house.
“I also requested the neighbours to talk sense into my brothers,” but nothing convinced them all this time, said Noorjahan, who visited the brothers again recently.
On September 14, after she finally had her husband file a complaint against her brothers with Hossainpur Police Station, Sub-Inspector (SI) Nizam Uddin of the police station visited the spot and found the elderly woman living in the cowshed.
SI Nizam found one of the sons, Helal, on the spot and took him in police custody for interrogation.
In the same afternoon, Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP, Hossainpur Circle) Mohammad Sunahor Ali Sharif visited the spot with Sheikh Md Mustafizur Rahman, officer-in-charge of the police station, and obtained Shomola Bibi’s first-hand account of her ordeal.
Choking back emotions, ASP Sunahor said it was a terrible experience for members of the police force to witness mistreatment of an elderly woman by her sons who forced her to live in an inhumane condition for two years.
He also said he was stunned to observe that the woman’s heart was still filled with motherly affection despite the heartless cruelty her sons inflicted on her and despite their keeping her unfed during most part of the day. “She [even] asked her son, Helal, whether he was beaten up at the police station.”
Police took Shomola Bibi in the house of one of the sons and placed her under custody of Omar Faruq, a grandson. They also warned her family members of legal consequences unless they take good care of her.
Before leaving the house, police told Shomola’s family that members of police would arrange funds to construct a fully furnished room for her by their house and they already have collected Tk 19,000 for the purpose, the ASP said, adding that after he broke the news to Shomola, she smiled and said, “God bless you.”
Saiful Islam, a member of Shahedol Union Parishad, said they would ensure that she is covered under the government’s Old Age Allowances programme.