Is it good or bad to living in the haur [flooded areas in the Brahmaputra basin]?
There are both good and bad about haur. For instance, we’ll have to plant the rice seeds in two months from now, then we will look after the plants for four months – poush, magh, falgun, and choitro – but if we don’t manage to harvest it within 15 days in boishakh [April], then things turn bad for us… it’s a risky job in these 15 days, if we can’t finish the work within 15 days, we’ll lose the whole year’s rice harvest. This is how it works.…
Why, how and with whom did you come [to the sand-stone-mine]?
We came… a man from our village had been travelling to this place since his childhood; he kept coming up and down; he transfers stones on the boats. I came with him, made some income; later, I started to bring in some more people from our village. Apart from him there are four more sardar [middlemen], and the four of them brought in about 30 to 35 people for work here. There were lots of stones in this place, lots. Now they have become rare.
We have built our relationships in this place. We know it as a very good place in whole of Bangladesh. Apart from this, let’s say, there are some big people who got land property papers done, they can earn their living off their lands, but we don’t care. Now we are working here, our owners [contractors over the mine] look after us… if there is any loss, our owners will refund us; whereas if there is work and we can’t pull that amount off, they will send us to go away. However, I wasn’t lucky: I had to suffer a loss. You know, I had ensured land around the place I showed you today, but my boss claimed it was his own.
What is good for you in this place?
What can I say about this place! We work and earn our living here… we can earn a bit more here. Compared to other places, we can earn a bit more in Bholagojn; we can make better earnings, that is why we live here.
How did you start in Feni?
We went to Feni in a period during which there wasn’t work, during the rainy season. We thought we should go around to look for jobs. So, we went to Moulibazar, there we heard that there’s more work in Feni and we thought ‘let’s go there’. We went to Feni, worked there and found out that there’s more work in Narudip. What we look for in a place is the opportunity for a better income! We are poor, we do not have land or that much money. So wherever there is more income, we go and settle in that place. Our lives are difficult lives, we are illiterate, don’t have permanent jobs – it’s not that we have any permanent income, we live on these [seasonal] jobs.