Gias Uddin Khondoker (32), a resident of Dhal Char, an island near the Bay of Bengal in Charfession upazila of Bhola, has been earning his livelihood catching fish in the River Meghna and sometime in the Bay of Bengal since his childhood.
After working as a "malla" (an associate) of majhis (boatmen) for about 18 years, he became a majhi four years ago buying a boat. He had been living well since then. He also dreamt of buying another boat and becoming a solvent individual in his fraternity.
But all his dreams were dashed when cyclone Amphan took away his boat, his only means of earning livelihood, on Wednesday night. His teen-shade house was also damaged badly.
"I sent my family members to a house on a comparatively higher land on Wednesday night. Then, I came to my boat and brought it to a canal. But I failed to take the boat to a safe distance from the river as big boats occupied the canal. On Thursday morning, I came to see my boat, but could not find it," he said.
"Primarily, I thought that the boat was displaced by tides. Therefore, I looked for it everywhere in the canal and on the riversides. Eventually, I came to realise that I would not get it back as it was vanished in the water due the cyclone last night," he said.
"I bought the boat with the hope of being solvent as I was passing my life in a hardship. The boat was my only source of income. Now I have lost everything, even my dreams," Gias said.
"I had dreamt to buy a boat and become a boatman since my childhood. To materialise my dream, I started to save money when I was 24 years old. I did not even take my breakfast so that I can amass the required money fast. I had spent all my savings to buy the boat," he said.
"I also paid a huge sum of money a local mohajon (money lender) as I had to borrow money from him while buying the boat.
"I have also borrowed Tk80,000 from people to buy net and other materials for my boat. I don't know how I will pay it now," he added.
"It is impossible for me to buy another boat. I can only see bleak future ahead of me," he said.
"It was my dream that I would earn a good amount of money and would buy another boat. But all my dreams are crushed," he cried.
He even blamed himself for the misfortune, saying, "Why I spent the last night at high land, why I was not in the boat? Why has the boat gone missing only, why have I not gone missing with it?"
"We were in fear. I have never seen such a high water in my life. The overall situation was very bad and we left the place to stay alive," he said.
Left completely hapless, Gias said, "I have no money to repair my house which also has got damaged badly. In fact, I do not have a single paisa to buy something for my two sons and wife."
Restating that the boat was his only asset, he said he had lost all his land in river erosion.
"To survive is the biggest challenge for me now. The other challenges include repaying my loans and repairing my house. But these appear totally impossible for me at this moment," he added.
Salam Hawlader, chairman of Dhal Char Union told The Business Standard that his union was damaged badly. Many houses were destroyed and domestic animals went missing.
"Many boatmen lost their boats," he said, adding that some of them will not be able to recover from their losses and thus they will fall into penury.
Around 10,000 people live at Dhal Char union. Almost all of them are fishermen who catch fish in the River Meghna and Bay of Bengal. A good amount of sea food of Bhola comes from this Island.
But unfortunately, there is no cyclone shelter there. Also, there is no canal to save boats from natural disasters. People living there, therefore, suffer huge damages during every natural disaster that hit the coastal areas.