Why did Nokkhotro’s father have to die on the streets?

A photo of Arif with wife and son.
Sabina Yesmin

It was Aneel Nokkhotro's fifth birthday on 5 November. He had a lot of fun with his father on his birthday this year. But his happiness didn’t last more than two days. His father left him for good on 7 November.

On that night Nokkhotro’s father Ariful Islam Arif (42) along with one of his friend, Shouvik Karim (40) died in a road accident. Around 11:45pm that night a truck hit their bike in front of the Eastern Tower in Eskaton of the capital.

Going to Ariful Islam’s house in Eskaton on 15 November afternoon, his wife Rebeka Sultana was found sitting silent on the sofa. Arif’s father was speechless at the dining table. He stood up and went to his room a bit later.

When Rebeka managed to speak, she said his father doesn’t talk to others like before anymore. She said, “I called Arif on his cellphone around 12:00am on the night of 7 November, as he was late to return home. The call was received by the sub-inspector of Hatirjheel police station. He asked us to go to the spot as soon as possible. When I reached there everything was finished.”

Arif's wife Rebeka Sultana
Sabina Yesmin

Wiping tears from her eyes Rebeka said, “Arif was a wonderful father. Whenever he used to be at home, he used to feed, bathe and tuck our son to bed. As I work as a school teacher, Arif used to take care of our son most of the time.”

“Nokkhotro just cannot accept the fact that his father isn’t there anymore. He’s thinking his father has gone somewhere and will come back again and we'll go on trips together again,” she continued.

Pointing at the photographs on the wall, Rebeka said, “Arif has been riding bikes for 11 years and never had an accident. Often the three of us used to go on long drives on his bike. Arif just loved to travel.”

She showed photographs on her phone of their visit to Narayanganj a few days ago during the Durga Puja holiday. They were supposed to go on a trip to the hills just in November.

Nokkhotro started behaving differently since his father’s death.
Sabina Yesmin

Everyone will forget all this after some time. But how will Nokkhotro grow up without his father’s love! He is the greatest victim of this incident. Nokkhotro started behaving differently since his father’s death. He’s always angry and doesn’t like talking to anyone.

Like Ariful Islam or Shouvik Karim, 68 people on average lose their lives in road accidents every day. According to Bangladesh factsheet of the global report published by World Health Organization (WHO) in 2018, in Bangladesh around 25,000 people die in road accidents. And, 220 people on average fall are paralysed in such accidents.

Road accidents are the eighth highest cause of death in the world. It’s the major cause of death among people aged between 5 to 29 years. More than 1.35 million (13.5 lakh) people die in road accidents around the world every year.  

Besides, more than five million people fall victim to long term and permanent paralysis from the injuries. Notably, 90 per cent of the deaths and paralysis are happening in densely populated states like Bangladesh.

Every year, ‘World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims’ is observed on the third Sunday of November. This day is observed globally to remember those who have lost their lives or have been harmed in road accidents.

This year, the day was observed in Bangladesh as well as in the world on 19 November with the aim of promoting road safety. Various demands like taking necessary steps, redesigning the dangerous roads, reducing speed limit and changing the designs of the vehicles were presented on this day.

Expressing her anger Rebeka said, “So many people die or are injured in road accidents every day, and everybody forgets them after a while. There are movements going on about the issue of safe roads. Yet, nobody is conscious even a bit.”

“Police don’t even have ambulances to transport people to the hospital immediately whenever someone’s injured in an accident. Arif too might have survived that day, if he was taken to the hospital quickly,” she added.

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