Tragic story of Jahan amidst the genocide in Burma

This story is a lesson for all fussy and finicky ones among us who frown over insignificant issues of mundane life.  It tells us what pain and suffering can actually mean, both for the dying and their loved ones.

Jahan was a 48-year-old Rohingya Muslim woman.  Even before the genocide began, she wasn't in the best of health.  She was diabetic and suffered from kidney and liver ailments.

Before the ethnic cleaning started in Burma in June 2012, Jahan and her family lived comfortably in the heart of Sittwe town in the Rakhine state of southern Burma.  They were quite a wealthy family, owned five houses and ran a construction company.  When Buddhist mobs began attacking Muslim homes in Sittwe, Jahan's house was also torched and looted even though her family provided money to the police in lieu of protection.  In a haste, Jahan and her family fled their home with some jewelry and  $5,000 in cash.  They had no time even to take their identity cards with them because of which they could not withdraw more money from their bank accounts after the cash in their possession ran out.  Along with other displaced Muslims, Jahan and her family began living in a dirt-floor bamboo hut close to the sea, segregated behind barbed wires and security checkpoints - in plain terms, an awful concentration camp.  They were prohibited from leaving the concentration camp, often not even for medical emergencies.

It didn't take long for Jahan's health to deteriorate rapidly after they fled their home with limited money. Medication and food soon became commodities of short supply.   On December 2013, Jahan got so ill, she lost consciousness.  Her husband, Mohammed Frukan, managed to get permission to step out of the concentration camp and take her to a nearby government hospital which had no local doctors or staff and was run by the Red Cross.  The hospital was surrounded by Burmese guards who shouted racial slurs at them.  The Red Cross told Mohammed Frukan that his wife needed to see a specialist in the capital city of Rangoon.  But such a trip is a luxury for the Muslim minority of Burma as they require special permission to travel within the country and need to pay plenty of bribes to the Burmese authorities.  The couple didn't have that much money nor was Jahan in a condition to go through the hassles of the trip.  So, after a week or ten days, they returned to their bamboo hut.

The doctor working for Red Cross told Mohammed Frukan to bring his wife for a checkup after a week.  But that wasn't possible either as the security around their concentration camp tightened and didn't allow anyone to leave. Jahan's condition inside the bamboo hut worsened with labored breathing because of which, she could neither stand nor lie down.  Jahan's husband decided to stealthily take her for treatment to Bangladesh for which he paid $300 for a boat.  He was ready to carry Jahan through chest-high water for more than 40 minutes to reach the point where the boat waited for them.  But prior to that, when the captain of the boat looked at Jahan, he refused to take them as he didn't want to take the risk of someone dying in his boat.  Mohammed Frukan could now do nothing except break down into tears.  "Life is so miserable for us.  Sometimes I am out of my mind thinking about her, but she never knows that. Whenever I look at her, it just hurts so much, and it’s so painful," he said.  Their family is split like with many other Rohingya families.  Jahan's son-in-law and daughter escaped Burma on boat earlier.

Jahan died most likely in mid January of 2014.  A reporter spoke to Mohammed Frukan early March, mentioning it as two months after Mohammed's failed attempt to get Jahan to a doctor.  Associated Press reports 'Frukan walked along a dusty potholed road before sunset in a white skull cap and a crisp shirt. He had been praying for Jahan, whom he fell in love with and married 35 years ago. He would have handed over his entire fortune to save her.  Now all Frukan has left is his guilt and a mound of fresh dirt surrounding a large white concrete grave. The best he could give her.'  Quoting Mohammed Frukan, "She died in the middle of nothing.  We couldn’t do anything in the middle of nothing.  If I talk about her, I feel I will die.  I try to make myself comfortable by going to the mosque, but if I talk about what happened to her, I will die."