<i>Desperation lost in sea</i>
Madina Begum still cannot accept the fact that her husband Abdul Malek, a day-labourer, will ever return.
“It was ten days before Eid. He left home around 4:00pm without uttering a word. Then in the evening he called me from Nayapara to say he was going to Malaysia,” Madina told this correspondent at their home in Falangpara, Teknaf.
Malek, 40, only earned between Tk 60-100 a day to support his five-member family.
“He always wanted to give our children a better life but he never explained how he intended to go to Malaysia. If I knew I would not have allowed him to go in that way,” Madina said.
“He sold my gold earrings, nose pins and even some new utensils to raise Tk 20,000 for him to go abroad,” she added.
Malek was among the 300 migrants who drowned on their way to Malaysia by engine boat.
On December 28 the Indian coastguards rescued around 100 migrants in Andaman Sea when they tried to swim ashore. They were thought to be Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh.
At least 67 of them later identified themselves as Bangladeshis and the list was sent to Dhaka for verification. Malek's name was however not on the list.
Hafez Ahmed, brother-in-law of Enayetullah whose name was found on the list, said he talked with Enayet now under the custody of Andaman authorities and was convinced that Malek was not among the survivors.
The Bangkok-based refugee advocacy group Arakan Project said the Thai navy abandoned hundreds of illegal migrants on a barge in the Indian Ocean where about 300 desperate people with little food and water died.
It also said four illegal migrants were tied up and thrown into the ocean after they refused to board the Thai navy vessel.
Asked how she would manage her family now, Madina Begum said, “My father and mother-in-law are no more. I don't know how far my parents will help me.”
She now wonders how to explain to their three young kids Tahera Begum, Mohammad Tarek, 8, and Saiful Islam, 4, what has happened.
Asked about his father, Tarek gave an innocent smile and just said: “Malaysia.”