Md Ripan Mia has been in the battle of life from his childhood. He has been a witness to the bitter transformation of this city. But nothing could make him depressed. Nothing could make him down-hearted.
He has seen many tragedies in life from close proximity. But he always found a ray of hope and had the courage to transform his own life.
But the Covid-19 pandemic has shown him a completely different side of existence.
Ripan has been working as a locksmith for 16 years on the footpath in front of Ahmed Shah Masjid in the capital's Karwanbazar area. The Covid-19 pandemic uprooted him from his profession as he had to take refuge at his village home in Chandpur during the shutdown period.
Ripan said he used to earn Tk1,200-1,500 per day before the pandemic. But now he earns only Tk250-400 after returning from Chandpur and after the government reopened the economy. His earnings nowadays are too small to feed his family of eight members including his wife, children, parents and siblings. He has to bear 80 percent of the total expense of his family.
Currently, Ripan is living in a mess in the Begunbari area of the capital's Tejgaon area. Other members of his family including his wife and children live in Chandpur.
Before the pandemic, I used to save Tk15,000-16,000 per month. Now it has been hard for me to bear my own expense. I cannot send any money to my family. My savings have already been spent
"Before the pandemic, I used to save Tk15,000-16,000 per month. Now it has been hard for me to bear my own expense. I cannot send any money to my family. My savings have already been spent. My family is living in a miserable condition. I do not know how to express my sorrow," said Ripan.
He said, "No one helped me during the time of Covid-19. There are many leaders here. But no one gave me a single penny. They have not come to ask me how I am doing. We had a co-operative society. But its operation is stopped now."
He claimed he has to give Tk1,200 per month to the police in bribes.
"I almost have no work nowadays. But a person needs at least Tk300 per day to bear his essentials expenses. Meanwhile, I have to allocate a certain amount of money for the police. Sometimes life feels hopeless," said Ripan with bitterness.
No one helped me during the time of Covid-19. There are many leaders here. But no one gave me a single penny. They have not come to ask me how I am doing. We had a co-operative society. But its operation is stopped now
"I cannot go to anyone to seek help as the situation is dire for everyone. If I want to meet somebody, I have to spend at least Tk200 as transportation cost. But I do not have that money. I am facing everything silently. Maybe this is how the course of life is structured. Otherwise, I would not have to live a life like this. Life has become meaningless to me," he added.
Ripan questions the government's effort to help people during the pandemic since he as a low-income citizen has not received any money or food from the authorities.
He said with watery eyes, "My daughter is eight years old. As a child, she wants many things. But I cannot fulfil any of her demands. She feels sad because of this. I feel like a failed person."
"Only a father could feel this helplessness. It is a great mockery of fate," Ripan added.