Six-year-old Maliha and 11-year-old Raiyan were inseparable. The siblings would play like best friends. Maliha did not know of a world where Raiyan was not there for her.
The two even had dengue together late last month and got hospitalised together.
But yesterday, Maliha returned home from the hospital only with her parents; her brother did not.
“Where is bhaiya? ... I have not seen him for such a long time ... Why are you not taking me to him?” a puzzled and confused Maliha has been asking her parents since she returned from the hospital in the morning.
Her brother passed away on Friday. Maliha’s condition was bad and her parents withheld the news from her.
When she finally heard from a cousin, the little child could not grasp the meaning of death.
“Where is Bhaiya? If he was buried, then let’s go there and play. Take me to him,” she kept insisting.
Only a few days ago, Maliha’s father Momin Sarker had buried his son and had to go straight back to the hospital to be by Maliha’s side.
As Momin, Maliha, and her mother Jannat Ara Jahan were returning to their Shekhertek home from hospital yesterday, Jannat noticed a large banner at Raiyan’s school gate mourning his death.
“My wife stopped the autorickshaw we were in and went to the gate and just broke down in tears seeing her son’s photo,” Momin said.
The family could not stay in their home long. The fear of Maliha getting dengue again and losing their second child forced them to take refuge at a relative’s place in Mirpur.
“Doctors asked us to keep her [Maliha] safe so that mosquitos cannot bite her. If she got infected a second time, she might face the situation her brother faced,” Momin said.
“After staying one hour in our home, we left and went to a house of a relative hearing that there were no mosquitoes there.
“Maliha wants to get out of the confines of a mosquito net ... but we are not allowing her to do that,” Momin told The Daily Star over the phone.
Even though Maliha heard from a cousin that her brother died, Momin and Jannat have been avoiding the subject.
“She keeps saying that she wants to go to the graveyard to play with her brother,” Jannat said.