The grounds of Adharchandra Vidyalaya in Savar, Dhaka are crowded. People are looking for bodies, the bodies of loved ones. The wind has become heavy in the longing and wailing of the people. A suffocating atmosphere of anxiety. One wounded, mutilated body is being rescued from the rubble of a collapsed nine-storey building. And people are stumbling to see whether the body belongs to their parents, brothers or sisters. That was in 2013. The Rana Plaza tragedy, the world’s third-largest industrial accident, occurred on April 24. At least 1,136 workers were killed, most of them women. Another 2,000 injured.
The rescue operation of the injured and the dead had been going on for some time. One such day, a 9-10 year old boy came to Adharchandra Vidyalaya ground and hugged volunteer and rescue worker Achma Akhtar and broke down in tears. Who knows why he seemed to be the safe haven of so many people, the tired-upset boy. But from that day on, the relationship between mother and son became between Achma and Shakib. “I found roses beside the body that day,” said Achma.
He brought the boy to his Lalmatia house that day. He calmed down and wanted to know about his misfortune. Shakib’s mother and elder sister used to work in a garment factory in Rana Plaza. The elder sister was found seriously injured after 12 pm on the day of the accident. But the mother was not found yet, the body was finally found 18 days later.
Shakib’s family lives in a slum near Rana Plaza. There is mourning. Shakib’s youngest brother Sabuj, who is three or four years old, got up on his lap and hugged his chest in such a way that after talking for so many days, Achma started crying again.
Achma Akter died after giving birth to a son. No more children. That dissatisfied mother’s heart seemed to wake up seeing Shakib, Sajib and Sabuj. From that day, Achma Akter started the fight to save Shakib’s sister Yanur. The girl’s condition was very bad. The chances of survival are low, even if you survive, you have to cut off your legs. The girl’s father seemed to have accepted this fate after hearing these words from the doctors. But Achma did not give up. Yanur was brought to Apollo Hospital from Dhaka Medical College. Life support was two days. But Achma Akhtar ran like crazy after the doctors, ‘Save my daughter anyway’. ’
In the end, Yanur got back to life in an incredible way. Dr. A doctor by the name of Zubair told him that day, ‘I saw you and I understood that there is no power in the world greater than the power of mother.’ Achma was still crying thinking about that.
Achma Akhtar is a theater worker. He wrote plays and acted on stage. He is associated with a theater troupe called ‘Natanandan’. Her play on domestic violence has had 200 exhibitions of women and monsters. The play has been exhibited in Kolkata and London outside the country.
Another identity of Achma Akter is that she is a volunteer. At a very young age, at the urging of his father, he trained as a volunteer in the fire service. He has always felt the urge to do something for the afflicted people, for the abused women. After seeing the news of the Rana Plaza tragedy on the television scroll, he decided to join the rescue process. He bought a shovel and rushed to the spot. He also sold his jewelry and bought 100 yards of shrouds.
They became a group of 10-12 people. Crawling into a broken building, searching for the living, the half-dead or the dead, bringing them out if found পাওয়া is a painful experience. Everyone on the team was traumatized. Every day someone would lose consciousness. A 22-23 year old boy named Babu had lost his mental balance.
Achma was later awarded for her courage, service and volunteerism from various organizations. But he thinks that healing Yanur is a bigger reward than that award, hearing the call of ‘mother’ from Shakib, Sajib and Sabuj.
Shakib, Sajib and Sabuj now live at the Old Rajshahi Cadet Association’s Shishu Niketan Orka Homes in Chittagong. Three brothers are in 10th, 6th and 3rd class in Bangladesh Navy School respectively.
‘Do you know Achma Akter?’ Shakib asked with a smile and said, ‘My mother.’
When I told Achma about this, he said, ‘I don’t get a chance to go to Chittagong. Take a look at my boys. ‘