“All of us decided that we would commit suicide, and we would poison our father and my son, so that we could finally get rid of this hunger, harassment, and humiliation.”
“আমাদের প্রত্যেকে সিদ্ধান্ত নিয়েছে যে আমরা আত্মহত্যা করব, এবং আমরা আমাদের পিতা এবং আমার ছেলেকে বিষাক্ত করব, যাতে শেষ পর্যন্ত আমরা এই ক্ষুধা, হয়রানি এবং অপমান থেকে মুক্তি পেতে পারি।”
Mahamuda “Mili” Akter is a math teacher, poet, and artist living in Dhaka, Bangladesh. When the coronavirus pandemic hit, her family of ten lost their jobs, and they went from living a good life to suffering intensely.
Due to the pandemic there was no work and no money, and government rations of rice, flour, wheat, and lentils were the only food–and only in March and April. After that the family was on its own to scrounge and scavenge however it could. Mahamuda chose to eat once a day to conserve for her children and could not buy milk for her two-year-old son.
On March 27, Mahamuda’s father suffered brain damage from epilepsy, and on April 12, her husband suffered a stroke. Mahamuda in desperation borrowed money more than once to pay for life-saving medical care.
In August 2020 her creditor gave Mahamuda until September 30 to repay some of her debts or go to jail.
Mahamuda questioned Allah. She condemned the corruption of Bangladeshi society. She alternated between hope and despair. Her entire family even decided to die at home rather than starve on the streets of Dhaka. And she wrote about it all.
This book tells the story of her 2020 up to her September 27 confrontation with her creditor.
I was startled by the immediacy and depth of Mahamuda’s writing, which reminded me of that of Rumi and other classic ancient poets. Her native language is Bangla, but her English is excellent and only required modest editing. It was an honor to work with her on her first collection.
“Allah kills so many people, why doesn’t Allah give death to me?”
“আল্লাহ এত লোককে হত্যা করেন, আল্লাহ কেন আমাকে মৃত্যু দেন না?”