By Danielle Hong
Aiful spent a fitful night on 16 May 2012 trying to sleep. It wasn’t possible. Earlier in the day, a metal beam had fallen straight onto his back, leaving gashing wounds that would later require stitches and five consecutive trips to Tan Tock Seng Hospital. The accident, which happened around 3 pm in the afternoon, would be dismissed by Aiful’s boss from Tellus Marine Engineering, who simply told him without fanfare to go back to the dormitory in the evening. “Boss said, he will send me back to Bangladesh the next day.”
Bleeding and disorientated from the injuries sustained at the marine worksite, Aiful’s plight went unheeded by even his fellow workers, who were afraid to get involved in the affair. Eventually, Aiful’s closest companion at the dormitory, Aslam, managed to bandage the wounds hours later in the evening with scrap cloth to stop the bleeding temporarily.
The next morning, the 23-year-old Bangladeshi from Rajanorgor was almost unconscious from the wounds. He had taken no medication to ease the pain, with only the makeshift bandages to keep the wounds dry. “Boss say no go hospital, I scared to ask him to send me to hospital.” For the second time, Aslam helped Aiful by rushing him to Tan Tock Seng in a taxi, where Aiful’s doctor reprimanded him for not coming in immediately after the accident occurred. All this was done without consent of, let alone help from, Aiful’s supervisor.
Today, Aiful is able to move around comfortably, although he has not fully recovered from his injuries after the two-month medical certificate (MC) given by his doctor. After barely working at the marine construction site for three months before the accident, Aiful is adamant about returning home to his widowed mother and younger brother.
“Two weeks after I tell my parents that I go to hospital, my father… he pass away.” Aiful says this with a heavy acceptance of the disappointment and heartache he may have contributed to his father’s death. His mother, who is unemployed, now depends on irregular handouts from her neighbours in their village to feed herself and Aiful’s younger brother, Islam, who at twelve has stopped school since their father passed on.
As Aiful waits for his uncertain compensation from his former employer, he is eager to get back home once and for all and leave this episode behind him. “I want to work in canteen, like my father, cook food for people.” For Aiful, time now spent languishing in Singapore is especially excruciating, but perhaps, even more so for his family back home.