Three months ago, Asma Begum gave birth to twins—a boy and a girl. Her newborn son caught a cold soon after birth. The baby boy died on the sixth day without treatment. Asma now worries her other child might die of hunger as she and her husband have no source of income in the ongoing Covid-19 lockdown.
On Monday, Asma was trying to sell a few vegetable items she had received as aid, to buy milk for her three-month-old daughter, Halima.
"There was no other way to raise money for my child's milk," Asma told The Business Standard (TBS) on Monday, sitting on a footpath in the desolate TSC area with Halima on her lap.
She continued, "I have not eaten anything yet until afternoon today. But earlier someone gave me some vegetables and I was hoping to sell that to buy some milk for my child. We [she and her husband] can survive without eating, but I can't let my child die of hunger."
Asma and her husband Sumon Mia were both born in Lalmohan village in Bhola. They moved to Dhaka a few years back in search of a better life. But their life was ravaged last year by the deadly Covid-19 pandemic.
Sumon used to work as a drainage line cleaner for Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (WASA) but he lost that job last year.
Since then Sumon is making a living collecting and selling recyclable scrap. But that has barely been enough to support his family during the pandemic and the ongoing lockdown has made their life only harder.
According to Asma, her family is now totally dependent on charity handouts.
"Someone distributed some aid two days ago. I got some vegetables on that day but we had no rice. So I sat on the footpath to sell the vegetables, but could not. Later that day I cooked that after some people gave me a little money to buy some rice and one of them bought me a milk pot," Asma said.
"On Sunday night we had dinner with some rice and roasted onion," she added.
The couple told TBS that the proctorial body of the University of Dhaka is trying to evict them from the TSC area.
Asma and Sumon say they had makeshift living arrangements on a footpath close to the Stadium area near the capital's Gulistan. They came into the TSC area a few days ago after they were evicted amid the lockdown.
Sumon Mia said, "People only make fun of us. No one is helping. Members of the proctorial body of the university are not allowing us to stay on the sidewalk. I started to sell cigarettes but they would not allow that either, although there are other street vendors at TSC who are doing the same business."