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Tasmida: A Tale Of Grit And Glory
Tasmida: A Tale Of Grit And Glory
Tasmida was six years old when she took the longest ride of her life. She wasn’t alone. Her dad, mom and her six brothers huddled in a rickety jeep without any headlights on as it bumped along the pot-holed roads in the dead of the night, clinging on to the slim hope of reaching the banks of River Naf. The distance they covered was exactly the distance between life and death.
Rajaram Sukumar

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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September 2019