Left in the lurch
For 91 days from January 5 to April 5 last year, there was hardly a single day when innocent people were not burnt to death or injured in arson attacks on public transports. Some lost their loved ones, others their lone bread earners during the longest spell of horror allegedly carried out by the BNP-led coalition, protesting the January 5, 2014, elections.
At least 95 people were killed and about 1,500 injured. Most of them were ordinary citizens. Another 45 got killed in "shootouts" with law enforcers. The economic loss from the blockade and shutdown was enormous.
One year on, the overall picture has changed but the ordeals of those injured and the families of those killed have not. The Daily Star visited over a dozen such families. Today's story is about how a man has lost everything.
Liton faces the harshest reality in life.
When a bomb took one of the trucker's eyes and damaged the other during the BNP-led coalition's indefinite blockade a year ago, his wife and other family members stood by him, making every possible effort for his treatment.
But in just 12 months, everything has drastically changed for him. His wife has left him and his brothers have started to treat him as a burden. He will never see with his left eye -- a bitter truth he has to live with for the rest of his life. But living a lonely life is something he has not prepared for.
"My life is engulfed in darkness. I don't see an end to this darkness. Everyone is leaving me," said the truck driver from Shailakupa of Jhenidah.
As he spoke to these correspondents at his Doikola village home in Shailakupa, his eyes were teary.
"My wife and children left me for my uncertain future. They were too worried about how I will feed them?" he said, trying to hold back tears.
A single incident has turned his entire world upside down, shattering his happy family and dragging him into abject misery.
The picture, however, was starkly opposite a year ago or so.
Liton had quite a happy life. He used to earn Tk 30,000 to Tk 40,000 every month, enough for his five-member family -- two sons, wife and the elderly mother. He along with his brothers had even started erecting a building at their village home.
On January 14 last year, Liton started for Magura with his truck loaded with stones from Chapainawabganj under law enforcers' protection.
Even so, as his vehicle reached Shibganj Bazar in the evening, a youth came out of a roadside house and hurled a crude bomb right at his face.
He took treatment at National Institute of Ophthalmology Hospital in Dhaka before leaving for India, with the financial help from the government, in February.
The government so far has provided Tk 12 lakh for his treatment. Treated in Chennai in India thrice, the vision in his right eye has improved a little. He could get back 90 percent of his vision if he continued treatment, said the doctors there.
Besides, there are shrapnel and broken glasses still inside his forehead and eyes, which need to be removed, or else those would create major problems in future. For the treatment, he needs around Tk 10 lakh.
When these correspondents paid him a visit on December 16, he was sitting on a bed in one of the rooms of their under-construction building. Except for the bed, there is nothing in the room, which was incomplete and looked dark in the winter afternoon.
"What was my fault for which I'm being punished this way?" Liton repeated this question quite a few times as he narrated his agonies and miseries.
After the attack, relatives and villagers extended their helping hands but it was inadequate. "I had to sell my portion of the under-construction building to my younger brother as he spent around Tk 2.50 lakh for my treatment."
Had he not received the prime minister's financial assistance, he would have died untreated by now, he said.
His wife Sweety Akter took their two sons -- one studying in class-VI and the other in playgroup -- to her father's house before Eid-ul-Azha [in October] and has not visited even once since then.
Liton went to his father-in-law's house in mid-November but only to be humiliated. He was not even allowed to stay in the house.
"One of the relatives said, 'You won't be able to feed your sons, give them shelter.' They even said why would they live with me when I have to live by begging?" he said with a choked voice.
Even Though he is living with his brothers' family now, they consider him a burden and wish he would leave. Therein lies the irony because he, being the eldest, raised two of his brothers after his father's death 10 years ago.
"I don't know how my life would go on, what I would do or where I would stay. I will have to depend on my brothers' being sympathetic," he said. "This is not a life at all … But I want to live my life."
He now wants a job or compensation. "I got money for my treatment, but I got nothing as compensation.
"I'd be able to lead my life if I got a job like a peon or something, because I'd never be able to drive again."
Accusing the BNP-Jamaat-Shibir men for his miseries, he said, "They [Jamaat-Shibir men] are now living their lives after carrying out the bomb attacks, but my life has been thrown into uncertainty."
The responsibility to try the people who are responsible for his misery rested with the almighty, he believed.
He expressed gratitude towards Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, saying she had done a lot for him.
He once again requested the premier to take more initiatives so that his treatment continued and he got more financial assistance.
"I want to live," he appealed.
[Our Jhenidah Correspondent Azibor Rahman contributed to this report]