Holey Artisan staff turns toothbrush vendor
A little over a month ago, everything was going well for Shishir Boiragi. He had a job that paid him enough to take care of his three-member family and treatment of his son suffering from kidney disease.
Then the night came when his world was upended.
Shishir Boiragi used to earn a decent living as an assistant chef of Holey Artisan Bakery. But after the Gulshan attack, he became jobless and now sells toothbrush on a footpath in Gulshan-2. With this meagre income, he can barely make ends meet, let alone continue treatment of his son, inset, suffering from kidney disease. The photo was taken yesterday. Photo: Sk Enamul Haq
An assistant chef of Holey Artisan Bakery, Shishir survived the bloody siege on July 1 but his worry about future has overtaken him rather than trauma.
“What will happen to my son? I do not know how I will manage his medical expenses,” Shishir told The Daily Star.
His seven-year-old son Shanto, who is studying in the first grade, was diagnosed with kidney problem around nine months ago.
Doctors at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University at the time told him that the child would fully recover if he was treated properly for three years, Shishir said.
Shanto's treatment, until now, cost him Tk 1.5 lakh.
The family needs Tk 25,000 only for the treatment every two months.
Shishir, now jobless, used to get around Tk 25,000 a month before the café attack that left 22 people, mostly foreigners, killed.
During the overnight standoff, he was among the staff locked in inside a bathroom by the militants. One of the attackers at the time told them, “We will meet in heaven,” Shishir said.
“I don't know if they [militants] went to heaven but they ruined our lives.”
Shishir had a small business of fish farming at his village in Agailjhara of Barishal. After the business failed, he came to Dhaka with a loan burden of more than Tk 4 lakh.
He started seeing good days after joining work at the Holey restaurant one and a half years ago and began to pay back his loan.
With the job he could even withstand the additional pressure when Shanto's illness was detected, Shishir said.
Months after the militant attack at the café brought him again to the streets.
He now sells toothbrushes on footpaths. Some 30 to 50 brushes are sold a day, from which he profits only Tk 100 to 150.
Managing three meals a day has become difficult and paying for his son's treatment unthinkable, Shishir said.
He went to at least 100 restaurants, after the fateful incident, looking for a job but they refused him saying their business was down.
This correspondent yesterday visited his tin-shed room in Bhatara, which he shares with his cousin for Tk 5,500 as monthly rent.
His wife Smrity Boiragi and Shanto came here from the village several days after the attack for his son's medical checkup on July 11.
Smrity said she could not sleep well since her husband lost his job.
“Earlier, people used to lend me money ahead of my son's visit to the hospital as they knew my husband had a good job. But things are different now.”
Many of Shishir's colleagues left Dhaka following their shocking experience on the night of July 1.
But a landless Shishir stayed back. He believes the situation will improve and he will get a good job.
Until then how to carry on with life seems a big question to him.