With predictions that Cyclone Amphan was hurtling towards the Sundarbans on the morning of the May 20, I called Saira Laskar who lives in Ananda Abad on the island of Basanti. I asked whether she and her family would be moving to the brick school about 20 minutes’ walk from their home.

“It will be difficult to carry both Falguni and her father, so we will stay home, she said. “We repaired the hut, it should hold.” Falguni is Saira Laskar’s physically challenged daughter. Her husband Mahboob Laskar is ill and has difficulty walking.

In 2009, Cyclone Aila had completely flattened the small mud hut in which Saira Laskar now lives with her husband and three children – a fourth lives with relatives. Because their ration cards were destroyed in the devastation of Aila, they were not given any government help until 2015. They had since rebuilt their home and hoped it would withstand the fury of Amphan.

Collecting firewood

I had met Saira 20 years ago when some kindly friends took me to visit Amal Pandit, a retired teacher of Maheshpur High School who had opened a sort of refuge for children who were living in difficult situations – some had lost a parent, others had...

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