When a freedom fighter sells his kidney for survival
In December last year (2005), a sales advertisement in some Bangla dailies1, 2 had drawn the attention of both media and the public. This, however, was not a regular sales ad. Paresh Chandra Sarker(65), a bona fide 1971 freedom fighter3 from Manikgonj, Bangladesh, wants to sell his kidney. The purpose of his ad was not to get the attention of the media or readers; rather, it was an obvious need: Paresh Chandra desperately needs money in order to save himself and his family which includes a wife and a mentally handicapped unmarried daughter. (He’s a father of four daughters). Money is also needed to repay the loan amounting Taka 2 lakhs (appr. US $ 3000.00) which he made for arranging the marriages of his three younger daughters in the past. Paresh used to be a stamp vendor but now has given up his profession, as an application4 soliciting monetary help made by his fellow villagers on behalf of Paresh reveals. His only source of income is a monthly allowance of merely Taka 500.00 (US $ 7.50) which he receives from the government under a program initiated by the previous Awami League government to help the poverty stricken freedom fighters. In contrast to the sound amount of monthly allowances, health insurances, land property, etc offered to the freedom fighters in India; the realities which freedom fighters in Bangladesh have to live with are harsh & ironic. Many are homeless, mentally and physically handicapped with no one around to turn to for help. Paresh Chandra Sarker’s story is just one of them.
As said in the beginning, Paresh Chandra Sarker attracted both media and the commoners by his unusual ad in the newspapers. Many reacted to the news in a saddened tone, some felt shocked too. But gradually it would be oblivion for many of us. Paresh knows it himself. Yet he cannot forget the golden chapters of his life in 1971 when he risked his life and embraced uncertainty. Even now—in 2006 in independent Bangladesh—each day he’s risking his own life and those of his family members. But unlike 1971, 2006 doesn’t offer him any hope or solace but only despairs.
Anyone interested to ease Paresh C. Sarker’s hardship by offering some monetary help may make his/her contributions to the following address:
Paresh Chandra Sarker
Savings bank A/C no. 34087002
Agrani Bank, Manikgonj Branch
16 July 2006
(About the writer: Jahed Ahmed is the co-moderator of www.mukto-mona.com)
(Acknowledgement: I thank Mrs. Monorama Biswas of Bronx, NY, for bringing the above story to my attention and helping me with the supporting documents mentioned under references. –J.A.)