“Soha moni [dear], where have you gone?... How could you take my daughter, Allah?”
Nazma Akter groaned in pain as she asked these questions at intervals, with her bandaged legs placed on a pillow in the National Institute of Traumatology and Orthopaedic Rehabilitation (Nitor) in the capital.
Her questions punctuated the moans and whimpers at the hospital’s ward, which was filled with patients who suffered major injuries in early Tuesday’s rail accident in Brahmanbaria’s Kasba.
The accident took 16 lives, including that of Nazma’s daughter.
The 28-year-old garment worker, along with her daughter Adiba Akter Soha, her husband, son and mother, had boarded Udayan Express from Habiganj’s Shayestaganj on Monday midnight.
They had gone to visit their ancestral home in Baniyachang of Habiganj on Thursday and were returning to Chattogram, where they work.
A few minutes after they boarded the train, two-year-old Soha fell asleep on her mother’s lap. Next to Nazma was her husband Mohin Ahmed Sohel, 32, with their four-and-half-year-old son Nafijul Haque.
Suddenly, they felt a strong jerk and heard a loud bang. It sounded as if the train was smashed into pieces. Nazma found her lower body stuck under the collapsed roof of the train and luggage, which fell on her.
Soha was still on her lap.
“I found my Soha on my lap with blood oozing out from her head,” she told The Daily Star at the hospital, with her son lying beside her.
When the rescuers were pulling her out of the wreckage, Nazma held her daughter tight. With serious injuries to her legs and hands, they took her and Soha on a pick-up van and started for Brahmanbaria Sadar Hospital.
“I kept her on my lap all the way to the hospital. I tried to give her water, but she did not drink any. Her hands and legs were motionless,” she said, as she continued her cries.
At the hospital, they were separated. That was the last time she saw her daughter.
After doctors declared Soha dead, relatives took her body to Habiganj for the burial.
Nazma and Sohel were transferred to Nitor on Tuesday.
Even with so many injuries, Nazma only felt the pain of losing her daughter, she said.
Little Soha had just started talking. She would use the words “ammu”, “abbu” and “bhaiya” to call her parents and brother. She would gesture when she could not express something, Nazma said, adding that her son loved his sister very much.
Nafijul, who suffered minor injuries to his right arm and shoulder, still does not fully understand that his sister has passed away. He sometimes stays with his father, sometimes with Nazma.
Nazma’s husband Sohel, admitted to the next ward, had fractured legs and hip. Her mother was shifted to Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Dhaka.
Sohel was shell shocked. He could hardly speak. Sometimes he moaned in pain, sometimes he wailed for Soha.
“They could not even see their daughter for the last time before burial,” said Jamila Begum, an aunt of Nazma.
Lying in the bed next to Nazma, another rail crash victim Shahida Akter Sumi was looking for her mother, Jahera Khatun, 48, who had died on the spot.
“I want to talk to her. Please make a phone call,” she was telling her aunt, Rehana Akter.
Rehana replied that she can’t do so as Jahera was now in the ICU.
Sumi, a college student in Chattogram, lost her father just five days ago. Her family was returning to Chattogram after her father’s burial in Sreemangal.
Three of her family members are now undergoing treatment at the hospital, while her youngest sister was shifted to CMH.
Abul Kalam, 52, another victim of the accident taking treatment at Nitor, was anxious about fully recovering from the fractures in both legs.
An owner of a small tailoring shop in Habiganj, he was travelling with his cousin in Udayan Express towards Chattogram. A few minutes after boarding the train, he had fallen asleep. He woke up to the loud sound of crash, screams and darkness.
“For a few moments, I thought I was dreaming. Then I started feeling pain in my whole body. When the rescuers arrived, I realised that the train was in an accident,” Abul said.
He underwent a surgery on one of his legs on Tuesday.
“I don’t know whether I will be able to walk like before,” he said.
Nitor Director Prof Abdul Gani Mollah said a total of 15 patients of the train crash are now undergoing treatment at the hospital.
“All of them have several fractures. We are trying our best to treat them so that they can get back to their normal lives again. But it would take two to three months for some of them,” he told The Daily Star.
A seven-member medical board was formed to treat the patients. The hospital authorities are bearing the medical costs, Gani said.
Around 3:00pm on Tuesday, Turna Nishita Express violated the signal and rammed some compartments of Udayan Express, leaving at least 16 dead and many injured.