It takes over 15 hours to travel the 350 kilometres from Hossainpur, Kishoreganj to Khulna city. To Rahima Khatun (39), the journey seemed to last forever as she fidgeted in anticipation; was this really happening? Would she finally get to see her daughter whom she had lost 15 years ago? Would she even recognise her? All her doubts were answered when she finally arrived at No. 5 New Miapara Road, Khulna. On the second floor veranda of the building stood her daughter Shikha (25). She recognised her instantly. Tears of joy streamed down the mother’s face as her daughter slowly descended the stairs. Shikha was in a state of shock, hardly daring to believe her own eyes. As Rahima started relating stories from her childhood, she burst into tears. Mother and daughter embraced, finally reunited after 15 long years.
Shikha is the second child of Rahima Khatun and Gias Uddin. When she was only eight or nine years old, a local lady named Tuli offered to take her from the village in Kishoreganj to Dhaka, where she could work as a household help. Shortly after giving her to a house, Tuli passed away, leaving Shikha no way to contact her parents back home.
Shikha was abused and mistreated at the house where she was employed. Through a tenant of that house, Shikha found refuge in the home of a police officer. After staying there for a few years, Shikha started living in the police officer’s village home. She was mistreated there as well, and after a while she came to Khulna with another woman. At first, she used to work at a house in Jorakol Bazar in the city. Later she shifted to a certain Abul Mia’s house in New Miapara where she lived and worked for almost 15 years.People in that household knew Shikha was lost. Meanwhile, her father had passed away a few years back. This reunion between mother and daughter was orchestrated by the Khulna coordinator of Bangladesh Society for the Enforcement of Human Rights (BSEHR) Mominul Islam. He learned of Shikha’s situation a few months back through his contacts and managed to find the name of the village where her family lived. He began making regularly public announcements at the two main mosques of the village about Shikha, and as expected, her family eventually contacted. After discussions, it was arranged for her mother Rahima Khatun, uncle Belal and their neighbour Manjurul Haque to travel to Khulna and finally meet the long lost daughter.
“Never once had I stopped crying for my daughter. I had lost her before an Eid, now I am reunited with her before an Eid,” said Rahima Khatun “I want to make sure she gets a good husband soon,” she added.
“Words cannot express my joy in seeing my mother after so long,” said Shikha. “My only regret is that I can never see my father again,” she added.