Requiem for dreams | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 13, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 04:36 AM, December 13, 2019

Requiem for dreams

Distraught, families stare at bleak future after losing loved ones in factory blaze

With burns all over his body, 20-year-old Mehedi Hasan kept asking his sister whether he would be able to attend yesterday’s college entrance exams.

“Will I be able to get into a college? I have viva voce in the morning. Can I go?” he asked.

With 100 percent burns on his body, Mehedi died at Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery about 11:30am yesterday, around the time his viva voce was scheduled.

After taking his charred body to their home in Keraniganj on the outskirts of the capital, his sister Sonia Akhter said, “He wanted to study management and dreamt of becoming a banker. But he had to work due to poverty.”

The family dreamt of better days, hoping Mehedi would get a decent job after completing his studies, Sonia added.

Mehedi passed the admission tests to seven colleges affiliated with Dhaka University. He was supposed to pick his subject and college yesterday.

Mehedi was the youngest of four siblings. Soon after his mother died three years ago, his father took to bed with heart problems and Mehedi had to support the family.

Nearly 100 traumatised and grieving family members and loved ones thronged the burn unit of Dhaka Medical College Hospital after Wednesday’s fire. Mehedi is one of the 12 patients who died at the hospital yesterday. Nineteen other workers with severe burns are being treated there.

Sonia said Mehedi had been working since he passed his SSC three years ago. “During exams, he used to work the night shift.”

“I FOUND HIS BRACELET”

Gulzar Hossain, a rickshaw-puller in the capital’s Mirpur, recognised his son’s bronze bracelet when he saw it worn around the wrist of a charred body at DMCH mortuary.

His son Mahbubur Rahman, 25, worked at the factory.

Gulzar went to his village home in Rangpur a few days ago. He last talked to his son from there.

“He told me to bring honey from home. I was supposed to meet him tomorrow [today],” Gulzar told this correspondent.

He learnt about the fire at the plastic factory around 5:45pm on Wednesday.

“I could not reach him over the phone. I came to the hospital around 9:30pm. But he was not among the injured. Then I went to the mortuary, but the officials didn’t let me in.”

After a sleepless night, Gulzar was able to take a look at a charred body at the mortuary.

“Nothing was identifiable. I just saw the bronze bracelet on his left hand and realised that that was my son.”

The DMCH authorities, however, will not hand over the body before they verity DNA samples.

Mahbub was the eldest among three siblings.

“HIS WHOLE BODY WAS BURNING”

Two brothers Alam and Razzak lived near the Keraniganj factory.

Alam, 35, and his wife Ruma had their lunch at home on Wednesday.

Hearing an explosion and screams for help in the afternoon, Ruma came out the house and saw her husband, engulfed in flames, running out of the factory.

“I poured water and more water on him,” she said.

Alam died a few hours later.

Alam’s brother Razzak also worked in the factory. He is struggling for life with 100 percent burns.

Around 300 people worked in two shifts at Prime Pet and Plastic Industries. Around 150 people, including many women, were working when the fire broke out on Wednesday afternoon. 

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