The wife of my cousin is pregnant. They are garment workers and the wife has conceived for the first time after more than ten years. He has sent his wife back home months ago and now wants to visit her during the three days of Eid holidays. He called me and asked whether he should make the visit. I could not say yes or no.
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The eldest daughter of another of my first cousins is also pregnant after nine years. Their first child suffers from chronic kidney and hormone complications and they chose to take a second child after almost a decade. She had gone back to her parental home and now her garment worker husband wants to visit her during Eid holidays.
Tens of thousands of people who are desperately crowding ferries, boats and buses for the annual Eid vacations have similar stories. Most are poor and want to reunite with their families back home at least for a day. Some may haven’t seen their new born babies for a year, some desperately want to see their critically ill parents for one last time. Some just want to escape these cruel cities and breath freely among trees and paddy fields after months of 12-hour work shift.
The authorities should have foreseen the desperation. Instead of blaming these poor and hapless people, they should have carefully orchestrated a strategy that would cause minimum of damages and a maximum distance between people as they travel back home. When the factories were closed last year, we have seen how thousands of people just walked hundreds of miles under scorching sun to head back to their villages. We should have realised that same sort of desperation was waiting to unfold this year.
And, we must understand that the Coronavirus experience over the last 13 months has not been same among different income and age groups. A young garment worker may not have witnessed a single Covid death in his factory and among his relatives. The scenario is completely opposite among the urban rich and middle class people. So poor and lower middle class people who have migrated from villages would naturally ignore the fears of Covid and would do all they can to embark a journey back home.
It is our failures that we could not foresee the crammed ferries on the Padma.

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