‘Chain of Love’


Life was never easy for Jarina Begum. During childhood she lost her parents in the Kamplapur railway station. She had no memory of her childhood. Lonely Jarina’s struggle never takes a break. After living here and there at the age of twelve, people from her locality gave her a marriage with Ismail. She knew nothing about family life though she started to dream. A few years went well. This was the best time of her life. But when her only son died at the age of twelve her family was shattered. Her husband got involved in drugs. Her happiness lost in darkness. She again gets back her hope during her second pregnancy. ‘Mali’ arrives as an angel in her life. She started dreaming about having a normal life again. But fate was not on Jarina’s side. She discovered when Mali was two years old that she is mentally disabled. Also when Mali was two Jarina’s husband died from taking  excess drugs. Till today ‘Disabled Mali’ is the reason to live Jarina’s Life.

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Now Jarina is only Mali’s maa. Mali behaves like a child at the age of thirteen. She has very slow mental growth. Jarina has to connect her to a chain so that she cannot flee alone while her mother went to work. She was lost twice while Jarina went to work. The tragedy of Jarina losing her own parents is like a nightmare for her. She does not want to lose Mali again. After finding her, she found a way to keep Mali at their place. She chained her with a long chain. She goes to work in the morning and works madly while feeling the tension of Mali. She collects paper from the road. She carefully crosses the road everyday as she knows if she died there is no one for Mali. With cloudy eyes Jarina said, ‘I put a chain on her leg and put a stone in my heart’. While she was saying this, Mali untied her pajama bottoms and squatted to do her toilet. Jarina swiftly wnt there and covered her daughter with a cloth. Mali is Jarina’s world.

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Jarina dreams one day Mali will be okay. Sometimes she gets upset thinking, if Mali could be like other girls, she could help her with earning a living; she could understand how hard it is to work feverishly. But Mali understands nothing. She can only feel the touch of love, the smile of affection. When Jarina ties her hair Mali gives kisses on her mother’s cheeks. When Jarina is feeding her, Mali takes some rice and puts in her mother’s mouth. They have nothing; no home, and no furniture and no utensils with which to cook. This mother and daughter have only love that is sheltering them so far.

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As street people, Jarina and Mali have nothing. They only possess a few household materials that Jarina ties up and hides in a neighbor’s place because Mali cannot take care of anything while her mother goes to work. The neighbors of Jarina help her when she goes to work. They look out for Jarina if someone comes to disturb disabled Mali. The neighbor Kalpona said, ‘There is no one for this mother and daughter. They are living for each other. We see no one like Jarina who is doing this much for Mali. We pray for their happiness.’

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Chain of affection (13)

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Jarina Begum has now only one dream in life: to educate Mali in order to give her a normal life and to see her as an able person. Jarina pointed at the pen and drawing paper of Mali and said, ‘If there is any heartfelt person who could admit her to a school for the disabled then I can I die in peace’. While embracing Mali, Jarina lastly said, ‘Pray for us so that we, the mother and daughter, can die together. Why is life so painful?’

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27 thoughts on “‘Chain of Love’

  1. I’m working in Belgium everyday with people with disabilities like Mali. The love of Jarina for her daughter Mali is so beautiful and disserves the highest respect. Yet the whole situation is also sad. Hope that one day they both might find all the help they need. and all the happiness… May the chain of love between the mother and her daughter never be disconnected. Buth hope one day Mali can live her life without any chains…

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  2. As usual, a very moving story and photographs that speak to our hearts. Thank you for the reminder of these very real human struggles.

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  3. The pictures speak in volumes.Mali’s laughter is so innocent but she understands her mother’s moods . Love has it’s own language. Zarina’s life a long tale of struggle and sadness. Wish something could be done to relieve zarina of Mali’s future.My prayers for them
    beautifully depicted.

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  4. I post this intending no disrespect to the author of the work above. However, I am the supervisor of Shehab Uddin who is completing doctoral studies at Griffith University in Australia. As you would be aware he completed an intensive in-field documentary with Jarina and Mali in 2013 titled “Chain of Poverty”. In this he stayed with both over a much longer period. In addition he became a stakeholder in the lives of Jarina and Mali and committed himself to ensuring Mali receives medical treatment. I am surprised at the obvious derivation in this story and concerned that the accessing, imaging making and titling of the work so strongly references that of Shehab. Having looked at your web site, you present as skilled and capable of developing your own stories rather than repeating the story of another documentist. Jarina and Mali’s story should be told and re-told. But they should not be presented as fodder for photojournalists. By all means add to the content captured by Shehab, build on the lives of this duo and make the world pay attention. But this requires new insights and new understandings of their plight, not repetition.

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  5. You are not a human being….you are the eyes of Bangladesh….and my inspiration of doing any kind of good to humanity. Whenever any kind of hesitation, cruelty arise in my mind, I read this blog, I feel happy and become calm…..Akash bhai, how can I meet with you?

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