One day, my father phoned me from Bangladesh and wanted one lakh taka. I asked, “Why do you need so much money suddenly?” My father told, “No question, tell me, will you give the money or not?” I replied, “Father, why you are getting angry? Did I say NO to you?” I asked my father, “When do you need the money?” My father answered that he needs the money 15 days later. I replied that I would not be able to send the money 15 days later. However, after getting salary I sent the money next month. I could not express how happy my father was! I have been able to make my father so happy, because I work abroad. In my country, I could not give even five thousand taka at a time to my father when asked for. However, I have been able to give one lakh taka at a time due to working abroad.
I came in Singapore in 2008, my mother died in 2011. I am the youngest among eight sisters and two brothers. My three sisters died before I was born. So, everyone understands how precious I am to my mother and how precious my mother is to me. I could not go to see my mother after she died; I could not see her for the last time. I was suffering from fever for 17 days continuously. I was the best employee in our company, so my supervisor allowed me to stay away of work as long as my mind was unsettled. I would say that I am happy, despite going through a great loss. I will explain the reason later.
Now, come to the story of some migrant brothers’ sorrow. Nowadays, whenever I log on my Facebook account, I see my migrant brothers’ pain and grief on their Facebook updates. Their Facebook updates make me feel like they are not staying abroad; rather they are staying in the hell. Someone writes that a migrant’s life is not a life. He described in a way as if a fresh, beautiful life became lifeless. I do not understand why he does not find life in a migrant worker’s life! I want to say that brother, consider your life positively abroad. Thus, you will find yourself as the happiest person in the world. I am asking you to think positively in a way, say for example you are in Bangladesh now. Your salary is only 20000 taka. Think for once, what you will do with this 20000 taka? It will neither make you happy nor will allow you to make your family happy. May be, you are thinking like staying with family and eating normal food is fair enough. You may also think that after reaching home when your kid pronounces the word “Father”, it gives you all kind of peace. These are simply emotional words. Give up these emotions. In fact, when you will not be able to take your father to a good doctor, when you will not be able to diagnose your mother’s disease through different medical tests, just because you do not have money, then these emotions will not work. That is why, I suggest being positive about foreign life. Keep in mind, you are now able to send your kids to a good school, because you work abroad and earn better.
You are now fulfilling your beloved’s wish. Do you think that I am cruel? Yes, you may think, the one who finds happiness in foreign life after his mother’s death, that person can be called as cruel normally. The person who could not see her mother for the last time, how can he find happiness abroad! Yes, my happiness is staying abroad, foreign country makes me happy. Let us know about it.
I passed in the Secondary School Certificate exam in 2002. My parents have sent me to a good college, although it was very difficult for them. After passing the Higher Secondary Certificate exam, I joined a part time job besides my study due to the poor condition of my family. My monthly salary was 3500 Taka. I already told that I am the youngest child in my family. My parents were quite aged when I was working besides my study. My mother became sick. At this moment, I was in Dhaka; the money I earned that was not enough for the expenses of my mother’s treatment. I had to take salary in advance often. Otherwise, I had to wait for my relatives’ help. It was nearly five years I spent with my mother in this way. At the end, my mother’s sickness went to a stage that every month seven to eight thousand Taka was needed for her treatment. I was feeling myself so guilty. I started to think, my mother raised me so difficultly, but I could not avail better treatment for her. Sometimes, when my mother was feeling so sick, she would not express it due to my inability. My mother used to think that treating her illness is beyond my ability. If I keep writing in this way, the story of my mother and me will not be finished. Let us come to the main point.
At that time, I came to Singapore. My mother’s treatment also started with a good doctor at the popular hospital in Dhaka. My mother had heart disease too. I took her to a heart specialist in another hospital. These have been possible, because I work abroad. That is why I say, being in foreign country makes me happy. It is not the end. After the death of my mother, I spent 65 thousands of Taka for her funeral program, though there were contributions of other family members. My father who was also sick, but he hid his own sickness due to my mother’s sickness. After my mother died, we came to know that my father was also sick. However, he hid his sickness due to my low income. He was suffering from vision problem.
I was in Singapore at that time, I knew about my father’s vision problem through one of my sister who lives in Dhaka. My father asked to treat his one eye only, although his both eyes had vision problem. I replied, as long as I am alive, my father will not be buried with the problem in his other eye. I spent 56 thousands Taka to treat his eye. My father can see without any power glass now. He can read the Quran, although my father is now 85 years old. Please keep my father in your prayers. Now, if I say that the foreign country makes me happy, is that my mistake? No, this is absolutely not my mistake. I knew, many of you might think, “Jewel brother’s parents had sickness. He has been able to bear the cost of his parents’ treatment by working abroad. That is why he finds happiness abroad”. I would say, I had my parents’ sickness, may be you had other problems and that is why you too became a migrant. If you had no problem, you would not come abroad. And if you had not come abroad, your unemployment or low income would have made you very unhappy. Actually, I can raise thousands of logic why you are not leaving foreign country or you are happy to stay abroad. Those who are newcomer here, they might have come here for money. However, those who are staying abroad for 10-15 years, what would you say about them? Certainly you will agree with me.
I lived in Dhaka city for 12 years. I saw the condition of service holders in Dhaka. Many of them work as private tutor twice a day after finishing office duty, after that they go to home. That is why I am saying, you and me are staying very well. Despite having your unhappiness, your family is staying well. You know very well, happiness is to make others happy, not to be yourself happy only. Do not consider yourself unhappy abroad. You never know, maybe you are very happy and strong unknowingly. If you cannot meet your family demand or you cannot solve their problems being with them, besides if can do everything staying abroad, in which logic you find unhappiness abroad? You might know that you have to loss something to get something.
I want to raise another point. Those who are staying as migrants in Singapore regardless of differences in tenure, they do not know about their right or Singapore’s labor law. Many of you think that how and where they can know about these. Actually, you do not need to go anywhere. You do not need anyone’s help. You can be your own advisor and helping hand. You may be thinking how? You all use smartphone and data for Facebook, imo, movie download, drama etc. However, your little awareness can make you smarter. Go to Google, then search about “working in Singapore”, you will get all the information. You can easily see everything like, which benefits you are deprived from in your company, what to do if you go through an accident at workplace, you can know about you duty hours and overtime, by which day your employer has to pay your salary etc. You can also know about your medical MC, leave MC etc. You may also reply, where is the time to search these? I would say, use the time when you are in a bus or MRT, when you are following a lorry. All you need is to have curiosity to know about these matters. That is why; I am asking you to feel yourself as the best creature among all creations. Please do not feel like, you are ignorant, unhappy, you know nothing etc. You can do everything, today or tomorrow. I wish a very happy and beautiful life to all the migrants.
Woodland dormitory, migrant worker in Singapore.