My name is Nusrat* and I am 17 years old. I don’t have my father. My family is my mother, my younger brother, and I. We came from the village when I was in class eight, because my father’s vein was damaged and there were no good hospitals in my hometown. There are good hospitals in Dhaka and in Dhaka hospitals are government run, and the expense is less. That is why I came to Dhaka. My father died and my family’s condition became miserable. I couldn’t study after that. After my father’s death, my mother couldn’t take the mental pressure and lost her sanity. The responsibility for the family was on me. I did some bits and pieces of work here and there and somehow dragged my family through. I continued my studies at first, but at some point, it became clear that I couldn‘t manage both the family and my educational expenses.
I was 14 when my father died. My mother thought that if she could arrange my marriage, then it would be good for me. She would have fewer worries. But after getting married, there were more worries, because my husband was not a good person. I thought, if I live with someone, he might work, and I will eat. It will be a happy family. I didn’t realize that if you are with a bad person, your life turns into hell. He used to beat me regularly. There was not a day he didn’t beat me. He tortured me. Then my mother brought me out of there.
My husband used to punch me on my head. Now I can’t hear in one ear, because of the beating. If someone says something, I have to listen with my other ear. Water comes out from the bad ear. I can’t go to the doctor. Should I eat or go to the doctor? That is why I can’t get better treatment. If I get any help, I will go to the doctor. Because I am not that old. I want to be able to hear with both my ears. I can understand how painful it is to not have something.
My younger brother doesn’t study now. He studied until class four, but now he works in a hotel as a cleaner. He gets Tk. 2,500 ($23 USD) and some food. My mother is sick, she does not work. After having a stroke, she is almost half gone. She can’t hear on one side, so how will she work?
I get Tk. 3,000 ($28 USD) from my work. The house rent is Tk. 3,000. It doesn’t go well. We have to take out a loan. In my family, if we want to eat well, we have to take loans. We have to take some loans from my grandmother or my aunt.
If I walk on the road, many people will say many things about me. But I don’t care. I have to fight to survive. I have to go to work in the morning, return home at night. We don’t pay heed to those things. People can say whatever they want, I walk away minding my own business.
At work, if my employer calls me once and I can’t hear properly, he asks me, can’t you hear? If you can’t concentrate like this, we can’t keep you. But is this my fault? I can’t hear. I have wasted half of my life in the hands of an animal.
My workplace is safer [than home]. There hasn’t been any bad incident. I go to work, and that’s all. There are many girls like me there.
I am helpless. I don’t have a father or an elder brother. If I could get help from anyone, I could use that.
*All names have been changed