Old clothes, new hues


Pockets of Change
Old clothes, new hues

Shaheb Ali checks the colour on old clothes that have been dyed at the dyeing factory in Kaliganj. Photo: Azibor Rahman

Azibor Rahman, Jhenidah

Hard work is the only means of survival for the honest man. Sincerity and creativity gives new solutions to old problems. It is true for a group of men in Faila village of Kaliganj involved with the uncommon vocation of dyeing old clothes.

Shaheb Ali, Rais Uddin and Khabir Uddin dye all types of old clothes, including saris, scarves, shirts, pants, bed sheets, mosquito nets and quilt covers. People from different villages and towns bring their clothes and get those dyed in any colour of choice.

“Around 150 widowed or helpless women in Jhenidah and surrounding districts are involved in the trade,” Shaheb said.

“The women collect the items from housewives in different villages of Jhenidah town, Moheshpur, Chuadanga, Jessore and Magura on contract, and return them after we dye the clothes,” he added.

“Nahar Banu, Ayesha Khatun, Nargis Parvin, Zarina Khatun and Tara Bibi bring a good number of clothes here for dyeing. They earn a good sum from it too,” Rais said.

Dyeing old clothes is a price-effective solution for many in the area who cannot afford new clothes all the time.

Women involved in the trade said they take Tk 25 for each sari and pay only Tk 15 for dyeing. They take Tk 20 for a petticoat and pay Tk 12 for dyeing, keeping the rest as profit.

Nahar Banu, 55, a widow from Mashlia village in Kaliganj, said, “I regularly come here with lots of clothes from housewives in my village and neighbouring villages and earn a living for myself. I bear the educational expenses of my son with my earnings.”

Her son is a student at Jessore MM College. She earns Tk 100-125 a day from this trade.

Subrity, a housewife from the nearby Nichintapur village, said, “I come here to dye clothes. The colour lasts long.”

She is happy that she can add fresh colour to her old clothes for a new look, at a low cost.

Kudrat Ali, a cloth dealer in Kushtia, said, “I bring a heap of clothes to the factory in Kaliganj and earn a lot from the business.”

Shaheb, who has been in the business for 26 years, is able to make ends meet with earnings from the business. He dyes at least 150 clothes a day. He needs colour, hydroze, caustic stone, aluminium and nitric acid for the process.

His son Raihan is an SSC examinee of 2011 and his second son is in class three. He said he is leading a happy life with his wife and sons, supported by the unusual dyeing business.

Khabir, a business partner to Rais, said, “We have been in the trade for a long time now. We are doing good business.”


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