Trawler tragedy drowns many homes in sorrow

Monday, November 1, 2010

KAKDWIP - Beauty Khatun, 7, and her sister Sabana, 3, couldn’t understand why all the neighbours were visiting their house in Kamalpur village and whispering something to their elder sister Bilkish. They noticed that every time a villager spoke to Bilkish, she would start sobbing, but hurriedly stop when they went to her.

Later, a friend of Beauty told her that her mother had died in Saturday’s trawler capsize near West Bengal’s Ghoramara Island. When she asked Bilkish, her sister burst into tears. Bilkish, who is expecting her baby, has lost her husband and both parents in the mishap.

“My husband had told me to cook good food, he was hungry he said. He said once they reached home, they will have a meal together,” said Bilkish as she burst into tears once again unable to say anything more.

At least 42 people have been drowned and a large number are still missing in the capsize.

Another nearby house is mourning its dead, and the missing.

Silence has descended upon the house of Mahmud Ali Naskar in Anandanagar village. A family of 27 members is now reduced to seven. Nalbanu Bibi, the wife of Mahmud Ali, is lying in the morgue.

“What will happen by crying?” Mahmud Ali said. “I have lost everyone, including my wife, children and grandchildren. The authorities are saying they are lost, but I know they are not lost, they are dead and will not come back.”

“I have put a stone on my heart while cooking, as hunger does not know sorrow and emotion,” said Mahmud Ali Naskar, another tragedy-struck villager. “Every time I close my eyes, I see the face of my son floating before me. I don’t know how he slipped from my grip.”

“The flow of water was very strong. For a while he tried to fight by keeping his head above the water and shouting for help, but I could only stand and watch as the water took him away,” said Manoyara.

Many families like those of Bilkish and Mahmud Ali Naskar still dread the worst as search operations go on, and keep worrying whether they will be able to see any of their dear ones alive or will the bodies lie in the depths of the Bay of Bengal forever.

The trawler ferrying nearly 200 people, mainly Muslim pilgrims, to Kakdwip in South 24-Parganas from Hijli Sharif in East Midnapore district capsized Saturday morning in the mouth of Muriganga river.

While some people were rescued and some bodies were fished out, a hundred others are missing, officials said.

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