“Ma, do not change the cartoon channel. I will go to the mosque with Baba, pray, and then come back and watch cartoons again.”
Six-year-old Jubayed Farazi had told his mother Raima Begum this shortly before the explosion at the Narayanganj mosque on Friday night.
Raima did not change the channel and was waiting for her only son. But he did not return, and would never return to watch his favourite cartoons.
Jubayed was the youngest victim and among 20 people who have died so far of injuries sustained in the fire caused by Friday’s explosion at Pashchim Talla Baitus Salam Mosque.
Raima said that when she learnt that there was a fire at the mosque they had gone to, she immediately ran over there. What awaited her was the mosque in rubble, but her husband and son were nowhere to be seen.
After first going to a local hospital, she rushed over to Dhaka to the Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery.
It was her son she spotted first — charred beyond recognition.
“My son called out to me. He said ‘Ma’ over and over again. He wanted some water but I could only offer him a sip of water… my baby died in agony,” she said, sitting on a chair at the hospital reception area.
Her husband Zulhas Farazi, a garment worker, is fighting for his life at the hospital. Zulhas does not yet know about his son’s death.
“How can I tell him? Everything is over for us,” Raima, also a garment worker, told The Daily Star.
Raima said Zubaid used to live in his grandparents’ house in Patuakhali and they only brought him to live with them around a month ago to prepare him for school next year.
“All my dreams have been destroyed,” she lamented.
Yards away, relatives were trying to console Anwar Hossain, a rickshaw puller, whose eldest son Rifat, an HSC student at a Narayanganj college, died of his injuries at the fire yesterday.
“I peddled a rickshaw day and night, toiled so that he could study… but I could not even talk to my son for the last time,” said Anwar.
“Whom should I blame for my fate? My son wanted to take care of us as we grew old. But now he has left us all,” he said.
Like Anwar, relatives of the fire victims were seen wailing at the reception and outside the hospital yesterday.
Some broke down in tears while talking over the phone, informing family members that their loved ones were either dead or fighting for their lives.
The ambiance at the hospital premises was heavy with the sounds of mourning.
Family members of the dead were keenly waiting to see the remains of their loved ones — the handover of the bodies took some time as morgue staff tried to verify the identities of the deceased.
Seventeen-year-old Zunayed, a student of a madrasa in Narayanganj’s Chashara area, had come to visit his father Delwar Hossain, the muazzin of the mosque.
He was praying with his father when the explosion took place and both succumbed to their injuries yesterday.
Garment worker Nayan asked his mother Bulbuli Begum over the phone to have her dinner and go to bed early, saying he was going to the mosque to say his prayers.
When his mother came to know that the mosque caught fire, she along with a relative boarded a Dhaka-bound bus from Lalmonirhat and arrived at the hospital.
Standing at the hospital’s reception yesterday morning, she was pleading with everyone to be able to see her son just once. Nayan died an hour or two later, yesterday afternoon.
Karim Majhi came to the burn unit all the way from Chandpur, because his son Mostafa Kamal, who used to live in a hostel adjacent to the mosque, had been unreachable by phone since the fire took place on Friday night.
He had a suspicion that something untoward had happened to his son — and his gut feeling proved right. Mostafa, too, died of his injuries yesterday in the hospital.