Volume 4 Issue 29| August 27, 2011|


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Behind the Scene


The solitude of a hundred year old man

When it becomes hard to bear life anymore, and when there is no hope - life to endure,
The voices cry out from within to take away the lives without pain.
They are a couple, one score years less than a century combined in age, who pray that their souls their Lord keep and take away in their sleep.
by Aminul Islam

Noor Mohammed, the one hundred year old beggar finds it hard to sustain himself and his wife on a daily basis. He can do nothing but beg for alms, as his worn out body does not allow him to take up any kind of labor. He is seen to exit his hut situated in Nayanbari village of the Balian Upazila on infrequent dawns to travel by foot to Mymensingh city 26 kilometers away so that he can beg for his livelihood, only to return with whatever measly portions of food he can with him to share with his 80 year old wife Habia Khatun at dusk. He is allowed an elderly allowance, which in itself is next to nothing in these times. It could have been a bit relaxing on the elderly couple if Habia was not denied of her right to an elderly allowance. They have to make do with the Tk. 100 to Tk. 150 that Noor earns from begging on days he is able to go into town and the Tk. 900 that he is allowed by the government every three months.

It was a story of poverty for Noor since his birth. He was born into a poor farmer's family, and had to till the earth since his childhood just to ease his father's hardship on the fields. Even so, he reminisced of his boyhood to have been spent surrounded with games and programs in the village during the precious little time of leisure he could afford. He lived through the British regime during his youth, saw the India-Pakistan divide, and had witnessed the bloody war of Independence in 1971. Being married off in an early age, his hardships had grown, as he then had his own family to support. He has struggled all his life, and has buried five daughters and two sons so far. His other two sons now live in the capital with their families, but have cut all ties with him.

Noor also expressed his anger on how he had to fight for the elderly allowance something which was rightfully his, and on top of which his wife was denied her right. He recollected the incident that took place nine years back. He had visited the then Local Union Parishad Chairman Abdul Motaleb with his rightful demand. He was turned down and rudely turned away. He had thus taken up the case with the Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) of Phulbaria, who had been kind and just enough to have issued the elderly allowance card to Noor.

He laments his situation. He asks of what he had done wrong in life to have deserved such a fate that in other families the elders are looked upon, revered, and taken care off, whilst he and his wife have to rely on alms and hand downs from others. Even then, he does not blame his sons and relies on Allah's judgment and what He has in store for him. But Noor cannot help but fret about his situation and is always tense thinking of who will take responsibility of him or his wife if either of them were ever to become bedridden. The thought pains the feeble old man. He prays that Allah take him and his wife peacefully in their sleep.



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