Published: Thursday, May 9, 2013

Haunted, forever

Haunted, forever

Laboni

Laboni springs up on her bed whenever anyone tries to wake her up. Screaming and groaning, she frequently asks her father: “Get me out of the building. It terrifies me.”
The 22-year-old lost her left hand while being rescued 36 hours after the most tragic building collapse in the country’s history on the morning of April 24.
Late at night on April 25, she was taken to the Intensive Care Unit of Enam Medical College Hospital in Savar from the wreckage of the nine-storey Rana Plaza that housed five garment factories on its top six floors.
She is now being treated in a ward on the seventh floor of the 10-storey hospital.
Her traumatic experience of coming back to life from death’s door is agony too heavy to bear. But when this correspondent interviewed her on April 27, she looked strong enough to describe what she had gone through since the collapse and also what she had been thinking about regarding her future.
“My life is ruined,” said Laboni, who married in 2011 but has no baby.
“But I don’t want to see the life of any other man or woman ruined like mine.
“I request the government to do something for me so I can live my life in a way so that none can neglect me or hurt me,” she told The Daily Star on Tuesday.
Minutes before the disaster struck, her father, Mobashwer Ali, had asked her over the cellphone to leave the building. But she did not get time for that.
“Whenever we need to wake her up … she springs out of her bed, scared and stupefied,” says the grief-struck father. “Laboni often trembles with fear as she looks at the [hospital] building.”
Laboni now fears that the hospital building, too, will crumble and wants her father to take her out of it.
The father fell ill on hearing the news of the collapse, but still travelled to Savar from Narail when he heard his daughter had been rescued alive.
Recollecting the incident, Laboni said: “It was around 8:40am and I was just thinking of running out of the factory as my father told me. I had earlier told him about the cracks in the building.”
Soon afterwards she felt the building shaking, as if it had been hit by a tremor. According to her, the building took a few seconds to come crashing down.
Having realised the building was collapsing, she instantly sat down and laid her head on the floor and folded her legs in a crawling position. It was dark and dust was all around.
“I realised that a pillar had fallen on my left arm. Blood was coming out of my head, eyes and nose,” she said.
For 36 hours, she was trapped on the fifth floor of Rana Plaza until she was pulled out. Squeezed by concrete jumble and buried under the rubble, she could not move her body even an inch.
Two of her colleagues were also trapped on the same floor. One of them, Dipa Patra, died shortly after the collapse as a big piece of concrete fell on her chest.
But Laboni heard the other friend, Sabiha, asking in a feeble voice:  “Are you alive, Laboni?
She replied in the positive, she said, adding: “Sabiha and I used to ask the same question to each other until we were pulled out,”
It was around 9:00pm on April 25 when rescuers spotted the two. Having seen Laboni’s left hand pinned under a pillar, they first considered removing the pillar by cutting it.
But they changed their mind, fearing that doing so would mean further collapse and if that happened, Laboni and Sabiha would die.
“Then the rescuers decided to cut off my left hand to save our lives.”
Laboni was given some anaesthesia. Even so she had lost her senses when the rescuers finished cutting her hand off.
“When I regained my senses, I found myself lying on the hospital bed,” she said.