A slum dweller in the capital's Nondipara, Firoza Akhter has been living along with her physically-disabled husband amid worries about food supply for the past few months. She has no job and none has come to lend any support.
Abdur Rahman, who used to give rides to children to school in his van, has been jobless since the closure of Viqarunnisa Noon School and College in Dhaka. In the hope of getting Tk2,500 in government aid, he submitted a copy of his voter ID and mobile phone number to the authority concerned and has been waiting for a response since then.
Firoza and Abdur are among the hundreds of thousands of poor people living in the city's impoverished settlements, who work in the informal sector. They have already spent out their savings on basic needs, as the government has imposed lockdown one after another scrambling to rein in the virus transmission. And borrowing money from relatives any more is not an option now.
This is the backdrop to days being felt longer than ever before without enough to eat, sewn together into tales of miseries.
After the pandemic broke out last year, the country observed 66-day general holiday, when government and private entities provided cash and other support to the poor, but as the health crisis lingered forcing re-imposition of movement restrictions, the enthusiasm to stand by the marginalised population in Dhaka's slums dissipated.
To help the jobless poor people during the ongoing lockdown that began on 29 June, the government has not taken up any scheme. Though the disaster management ministry has a programme to distribute rice and cash at the union and ward levels, poor people in the capital complain about not receiving them.
State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Dr Mohammad Enamur Rahman said the ministry had started distributing relief items – rice, lentil, potato and oil -- among the poor in rural and urban areas on 1 July from an allocation of Tk23 crore.
In addition to that, more than Tk24 crore and nearly 1.5 lakh tonnes of rice were distributed in the next couple of weeks.
Before Eid, 23,000 more tonnes of rice and Tk100 crore in cash will be delivered. People who cannot seek help publicly can call 333, and relief will be given at their doorstep, the state minister said, adding that as many as 2 lakh people received aid calling the hotline number.
The aid goes from the ministry to upazila nirbahi officers via deputy commissioners of the districts. Union parishad chairmen and members then collect the relief items and hand those to the poor. In cities, councilors distribute reliefs after receiving them from the city corporations and municipalities.
Ashik, who used to work as an electrician, is now a rickshaw puller.
"I earned Tk800-1,000 a day. But I have had no work from the beginning of the lockdown. My family including two children spent one day without a single meal. On Sunday, I take out a rented rickshaw. I earned Tk250 that day after many days," Ashik said.
Like Ashik, many have changed professions to survive the pandemic.
Selim, who cooked in social programmes, sells cigarettes and tea in front of a slum in Shahjahanpur in the city. On average, he earns Tk200-250 a day, which is far less than the money he needs to meet the basic needs of his six-member family.
The van driver, Abdur Rahman sells snacks nowadays to earn Tk100-200 a day, with which he has been struggling to make ends meet as the sole breadwinner of a five-member family.
"Last year, we got rice and lentil, but this time no one came to us with help," he said.
"People from the government took copies of our national ID cards a number of times promising to give aid, but then there was nothing," Mohammad Bijoy said angrily. Once a salesman, Bijoy is unemployed now.
Others surrounding Bijoy shouted out that they had not received Tk2,500 promised by the government.
"If the lockdown continues, we will starve to death," said another van driver, Julhas Uddin.
Rickshaw-pullers in Khilgaon, Malibagh, Basabo and Maghbazar, however, said their economic situation was better than the others.
One of them, Nazrul said rickshaw pullers' income had not fallen much since most people had to travel by the non-motorized transport during the lockdown. His income dropped from Tk700-1,000 to Tk500-700.
"But the prices of essentials have been so high that the income falls short," said another rickshaw-puller Samad.