Earthen pots are Monimala's only hope for survival
Monimala earns her family's daily bread through selling earthenware. Monimala is too old to pull her rickshaw loaded with all the earthen pots and wares by herself. Her son has to push it from the back while his mother does the pulling from the front.
This is a story of a 45 year old woman who struggles to take care of her whole family single handedly. Wife of Ashutosh Pal from Shibnagar village under the Kaliganj Upazila Jhenidah, Monimala earns her family's daily bread through selling earthenware. She has a son nine years old and her husband has been bedridden with disease for many years now.
Her son has to help her with her daily business and therefore sacrifices school. Monimala is too old to pull her rickshaw loaded with all the earthen pots and wares by herself. Her son has to push it from the back while his mother does the pulling from the front. Even then, she is not able to earn enough to provide her family with three meals a day, or clothes, and most importantly, medicine for her husband's ailments. The family is forced to live in inhuman conditions by taking shelter under an abandoned tin shed that used to be provisioned for a tube-well.
It was more than 16 years ago that Ashutosh contracted some complicated diseases. He used to be a potter, which now Monimala has taken up as her trade to support her family and pay for basic needs. Even though Ashutosh has been healed, the illness has left him bed-ridden without any energy to take up heavy loads or to work for long. There were times when the family would starve due to lack of food and income, after he had fallen ill. But Monimala was determined and she would not give up so easily. For the past sixteen years, she has been pulling the rickshaw loaded with earthen pots, pans, jars, lids, plates and toys to sell in the local market.
If you are thinking that life cannot be worse, then you are wrong. Monimala had another son by the name of Robin. Robin used to be the one that helped her push the rickshaw to the markets, a job that is now handled by Samir. In 2009, she lost Robin to fever, and despite the mental suffering she endured, she still didn't give up. Nine year old Samir came to her aid and has been by her side ever since. Samir is sacrificing his childhood and education just so that he and his family can eat. Whatever chance Samir would have had to pull the family out of poverty in the future is gone, since he is not going to school. Minimala does not want such a fate for his son, and is very afraid of the future, but there exists no alternative. She prays that nothing happens to her for the sake of her child. She knows that if anything was ever to happen to her, Samir's future would become uncertain, and he may not survive. Alive or dead, she could never bear that. Even if she ever falls ill, that will be the end for her family. They will simply starve to death.
Her husband Ashutosh Pal could not find the words to fully express the amount of hardship they were in. He hopes that a generous person who has the ability will come to their rescue one day and pull the family out of dire straits. He also said that Monimala had no option but to carry a load that is beyond what a human being should have to.
(R) thedailystar.net 2009