My rebirth after a horrific day of April the 30th!

The day that changed my life forever started like any other day. On April 30th, 1997, my father (Abbu) left for work in the morning, and Ammu (My Mother) went to my 4 years’ kid brother to his kindergarten school and was waiting at the guardian’s waiting place. My sister Slivy and I were at home. My sister, who is 26 months younger than me, was preparing for her university entrance exam. About a week after Eid al-Adha, some of my father’s colleagues came to our house for a post-Eid celebration on April 29th. I helped my mom with food processing and house decoration, food serving, and cleaning up the porcelains. I wore a beautiful green dress that I made from my mom’s saree and of course, I looked beautiful in this green outfit. It was not cotton. I hardly used to wear a synthetic dress. It was among a few days in my entire life when I wore a synthetic dress. I could not resist myself to wear it because of that lovely color.

The day was very hot. My sister was busy with her books, so I worked until midnight to tidy up the house after all the guests left. I went to bed late and woke up late. My mom told me to heat up the leftover dishes for breakfast before she came back from my brother’s school. Abbu left for work and Slivy was at the reading table. I was sleeping. Uh, it was more than 10 am when I woke up and remembered that my parents don’t like late rising from sleep. I went to the dining room’s basin to wash my face and went kitchen hastily. I turned on the burner, the flame was high and I placed the pots on the stove. I switched the pots with the help of the scarf that I was wearing. The stove was in front of me but suddenly I felt heat on my back. I was surrounded by fire in a matter of seconds and I couldn’t do anything. Yes, every year I become a very worried and weak person on the morning of the 30th of April. As long as the sticks of clocks do not overcome the time 9.30 to 10 am. I really don’t trust the time that will not bring a fire-free morning again in my life!

26 years have passed with my identity as A Woman with Burn Survivor”. My family was a very simple middle-class family but we were the happiest family in this universe. My parents were afraid to arrange the huge expense of my treatments but they beg my life to Almighty with their tears in each prayer time. My two siblings became like my guardians caring for me with a world of hope that I will be cured one day. Besides my family, my maternal grandparents’ family was the source of all mental support during those devastating periods for my family. I recall the prayers of my Amma (My only aunt who was my father’s sister-in-law), the yearlong prayers in our area’s mosque every Jumma Day for me. I could hold on to the hope of getting back my life and minimum mobility so that I can achieve life skills on my own. Both hands were stiff and rigid for more than a year. I had to take help from my mom for going to the washroom every time for those twelve months or maybe longer periods.

When I recall the long 26 years, I find it like a fairy tale story now. I am blessed to complete my studies and additional studies that I wished to achieve; I have almost 15 years long job experience and now leading my own founded organization. I have several publications and achieved the happiness to become “The First Person With a Disability Film-maker of Bangladesh”. These identities are not an overnight achievement and not a bed of roses. Although I have been working in the human rights field to fight for the rights of persons with disabilities, the absence of burn survivors in the disability rights movement put me always isolated and cornered. My social and institutional life was always full of discrimination and injustice because of my burnt looks and limbs. The list of adversities is not so limited to the words that I have mentioned here. But those are the target pillars of my working goal now to break them. So, I preserve the adversities in a bucket that I need to work out and I treasure the memories of good feelings in another room that is full of happiness. And at the magical moment of my happiness, I love to forgive every single people who tried to set a pillar for me and my family. Yes, I do pray on each year’s 30th April to bless me with a joyful feeling by forgiving all odd creators in my life and bless me with a stronger life to hold on to my dream world. Of course, I will raise my voice against the supervillains of pillar creators. But I will works always on my own way which is by working better than them and building a better world without any support from those ghosts. I will just win all ghosts with my power of simple smiles because I love to smile with the pure happiness of the soul.

So, the date 30th of April on each year’s calendar is the date of my rebirth: I am blessed to have a smiling life, a grateful life, and an ever-happy life in this universe!

Jannatul Ferdous is a prominent writer, activist, filmmaker and voice for the excluded people. Experiencing disability in her personal life, Ivy chose her profession to promote the human rights of persons with disabilities, especially women with disabilities. She is at the forefront of advocating for equality, justice, and empowerment for women in the workplace through her films, write-ups, and human rights defender’s role.
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