A Sathkhira schoolboy has taken the helm of his family that struggles to make ends meet following his father's illness.
The third grader, Tariqul Islam of Palashpol Government Primary School in Satkhira, earns living by selling face masks.
''I don't like begging. Since begging is disrespectful, I sell masks and hand over the money I earn to my parents. The money is spent on our four-member family expenses.''
So said Tariqul who is mask seller on the Satkhira Judge's Court premises.
The only son of Rafiqul Islam, a resident of Madhumallar Dangi village on Khulna Road intersection in the town, has shouldered the responsibility of running a family at a time when he should just be rollicking.
''I am selling masks to stand beside my family as my father, a van driver by profession, is ill. I buy 100 masks in one packet for Tk150 and sell each mask for Tk5. I earn Tk400-Tk500 and make a profit of Tk200-Tk300 daily. I hand over all the money to my parents," said the little boy.
''I had a dream to buy a bicycle but my family could not afford it. If I had, I could ride that and sell masks and also go to school,'' Tariqul added.
Narrating his experience in selling masks, the 9-year-old said one day he saw an aunt begging in China Bangla area in the city.
"I asked her why do you beg though you are a healthy woman?" he posed a question.
"If you go to someone's house, they may appoint you as house help," the boy said to the woman, adding that when he said so, the aunt came to beat him.
Tariqul said he is the youngest of three siblings while his elder sister is married off and the second sister is 12 years old.
After learning about this incident, Shyamnagar Upazila Food Warehouse Officer Aminur Rahman Bulbul gave Tariqul Tk200 as business capital.
'At such an early age, the boy has taken the helm of his family. He has learned that begging is bad, no honor lies in begging, and so, the boy does not do it. He is earning money by selling masks. This is an example for others,'' said Aminur.
A tea seller, who was selling on the court premises, said many beg, telling lies to people. However, the boy sells masks every day instead of begging.
Tariqul's father said, ''I have been suffering from jaundice for long. Due to my illness, I am not able to drive a van regularly. So, my family was going through hard times. Noticing misery, Tariqul started business to stand beside the family.''
Tariqul's mother Salma Begum said two years ago, noticing the family distress, he opted to do business.
"He also told me that he would like to sell toys. Then I gave him Tk400 to buy toys. Since then, Tariqul goes to school and starts selling toys after school hours."
Salma said as school is closed for Covid-19 outbreak, he is now selling masks. He earns Tk150-Tk200 per day and sometimes Tk300.
He runs the family with the money and helps pay the installments of the association.
Maleka Parveen, the headteacher of Palashpol Primary School, said the third grader, Tariqul, is fairly talented.
"However, I do not know about his family condition. Besides, I don't know that he is selling face masks during the Covid-19.