They were fleeing the ethnic strife torn Buthidaung district in Myanmar. Little did Tasmida know that they were leaving Myanmar for ever, leaving behind her dad’s grocery store, a truck and a goat and whatever property they had, and her childhood friends.
Reaching the banks of Naf, her dad hired a country boat to cross the river to the safety of Bangladeshi soil. Her steely eyes turn misty as she narrates her woes.
“We didn’t have any rights. My papa was a businessman. They often put him in jail. My mother is homemaker and I have six brothers. How can we live if papa doesn’t work?” she asks, sitting on the lawns of Jamia Millia Islamia where she has secured admission for five-year BA LLB course.
Tasmida and her family reached Bangladesh in 2005 and stayed in Cox’s Bazar for seven long years. From a shop owner, her dad turned into a daily labourer while her eldest brother who was bright in studies did odd jobs to help feed eight hungry mouths. For Tasmida, education was her biggest casualty. “I studied in a higher secondary school in Buthidaung which even had foreign students. I had a few friends and most of them were Rohingyas. The school was very near to my home. I could go home for lunch,” she says, with a faraway look.
Begins life afresh
Tasmida was in the third standard when her family fled Buthidaung. She had to begin her schooling all over again in Bangladesh -- that too in a different medium of instruction, Bangla. “When I came to Bangladesh I had to take admission in the first standard again since I did not know Bangla. I got admission in a government school and studied till the 7th standard. I learned Bangla in one year,” she says.
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