GREAT FIGURES OF THE MISSIONARY WORK – Bengal and the Kingdom of the Dragon (11)

– Joaquim Magalhães de Castro

The nearly fifteen million inhabitants of Dhaka are by themselves synonymous with a high probability of discontents, so that in the congested streets of this city it is common to cross with demonstrators of many and varied banners. Were you waiting for what? This is a polychrome screen of whole lives sprawled in the dusty and dirty road networks; lives that improvise survival among rickshaws and battered vehicles. However, among the amalgamation of trunks and people, with surprising regularity we are presented with magnificent silver carts pulled by thin and suffering horses. Poor animals, subject to such an ungrateful and cruel task, having as their only reward a few bales of hay a month, and the providential liquid without which no living creature goes far. Notwithstanding, his gaze is no longer meek and tender, as the semblance of his cousins is tender and gentle, no matter how arduous the task. Certainly conditioned by the panting heat the common of the mortals is here, and understandably, of occluded face. But soon it opens in a smile when requested, as with an old man with a long beard dyed the henna, which gives it an orange hue. Curious, like a pesky gaiato, he lurks through the curtains of a purplish crimson, more ornament and not so much solar lair, hanging from the ceiling of the quadrangular cubicle, the core of the showy carriage, the lofty symbol of the capital of Bangladesh. Incidentally, by the way, unique in the genre.

On the right, white and yellow, the church of the Armenians, brothers of faith and physiognomy of the Portuguese people, their allies by vocation and with whom Portuguese were confused for countless times.

On the way to the maritime terminal of Babu Bazar is a merited interregno the minutes spent on the filled bridge over the Buriganga. That’s where the two steamboats with propeller wheel and enclosed decks with balconies and chairs – exotic reminiscences of the cruise ships of the colonial era of the Raj. They move to the rhythm of the rippling caused by the maritime traffic, sometimes hitting other boats on the way or already in the act of transporting merchandise and passengers. Some are loaded with watermelons and some with sand, sunk with weight to the water line. There are still some with hundreds of bundles containing unrecognized goods, and others, wider and longer, with plastic jugs that seem to me empty. We heartily welcome the purring   pre-pre-pre-pre-pre-pre-pre-pre” caused by overused and improvised engines. Ferries call them “launches,” probably derived from the Portuguese word “lancha” ( boat). Those that I see appear to be parked, not being very well aware if forever or just waiting for the day and time of departure.