Academic journal article Women's Studies Quarterly

Rana Plaza

Academic journal article Women's Studies Quarterly

Rana Plaza

Article excerpt

A building housing five factories in Savar, Bangladesh, collapsed on April 24, 2012, killing nearly one-third of the 3,600 textile workers.

My father was in the hospital

that day, his pulse as low as

the Bangshi during dry season.

I wanted to stay with him,

but we were warned No time off

for illness, not even your own.

Had he died, which, Alhamdulillah,

he did not, the bosses would

have said, Nothing to be done-

if he's dead, he's dead.

And so I left my father's side.

It was 8:10 a.m. when I arrived.

Workers gathered by the gate,

afraid. Reshma squeezed

my arm. In my mind there is

a photograph of her wearing that

purple and red salwar kameez.

Inspectors were here, she breathed

into my ear. They say it is unsafe.

We had all seen the cracks. Up close,

the building sounded like someone

chewing uncooked rice. And who

was surprised? Each day crews

added more floors, it seemed,

like a tower of toy blocks waiting

to topple. I am not the type

to complain. I am grateful

for work. One who cannot

read or write cannot expect

the privileges of the rich. I sew

until midnight most shifts. I sew

to feed my boys and send them

to school where I hope they learn

what they need to make

a better life. Reshma and I

hesitated. The bosses said

Don't worry, mahilaa, it's fine

and herded us through the door

like goats. Come, come, they said,

We have orders to fill. I turned

on my machine, a workhorse:

100 stitches per second,

so smooth it's like sewing

through ghee. …

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