<i>To hell and back</i>
Ranjana Akter Sathi knew there was a glass window which was not encased in an iron frame. It was near the sample room on the third floor of the burnt-out Tazreen Fashions Ltd.
â€œI knew about it as I am an old employee of Tazreen Fashions,â€ said Sathi, a 25-year-old sewing operator.
â€œRight when the fire broke, it occurred to me that I could rescue at least 100 workers through that window.â€
Without waiting for instructions from the higher-ups, Sathi, who survived the deadly fire at garment factory Tazreen on November 24, immediately reached out for that secret window.
She broke the glass window and started letting out the panic-stricken workers through it.
â€œAfter letting out 20 workers through the window, I stood strong and rescued another 80. I shouted and they jumped through it.â€
During the conversation with The Daily Star at her home in Ashulia, a severely injured Sathi recalled the frenetic efforts of the workers for their lives that fateful night.
Although some succeeded, many lost their lives.
â€œThe heat of the fire drained me out after a point. I got out through the window then and took the support of a bamboo I found outside to get to the ground.â€
Sathi passed out, her left thigh bleeding heavily, by the time she climbed down.
â€œStill, I can remember a few moments. Sirajul Bhai, who had joined a few months before and used to sit near me, tried his best to survive, but ultimately failed,â€ she said.
â€œI had a soft corner for Sirajul Bhai as he was a simple man and our bosses always rebuked him,â€ Sathi added.
When the fire started engulfing the third floor, a good number of male workers broke an exhaust fan to make an escape route.
Many escaped death through this way and many were burnt to ashes -- right before her eyes.
â€œAlmost all the workers could have survived if the production manager Abdur Razzaque had told us to go out in the beginning of the fire,â€ she said.
The collapsible gate on the third floor was securely locked, Sathi said, adding she saw many attempts to get out through the ground floor while searching for an exit in the thick black smoke.
When it dawned on her that she might also not make it out of the building, she rang her elder sister to hear her two children speak -- for one last time.
â€œI have so many stories to share of the tragic night that a full day is not enough,â€ Sathi said, adding she is still in a state of shock.
During the incident a female worker jumped from the window only to impale herself on a standing rod on the ground. The rod pierced through her neck and she died instantly.
Sathi said it will be difficult for the surviving workers to rejoin the garment factory as memories of that night keep haunting their minds.
She will look for a job elsewhere since she has two children and a husband, a struggling van driver, to support.
â€œBut life will not stop; it will go on,â€ said Sathi, who hails from Lohagara upazila of Narail district.