I soon discovered, from the fellow sitting next to him, that he was a former member of the Mukti Bahini (Bangladesh Freedom Fighters). After the subcontinent was partitioned by the British this country became part of Pakistan and was known as East Pakistan. About the only thing the East and West had in common was Islam. That is where the similarities ended. It all started to collapse when the main political party in the East, known as the Awami League, won elections and should have been allowed to form the government of all of Pakistan.
Instead, the opening of the National Assembly was postponed and the Awami League’s political leader and the father of Bangladesh (who should have become prime minister), Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was imprisoned. Troops were then sent to the east to quell dissent. It was not pretty and their tactics were as brutal as it gets (See also Bangladesh Liberation War).
The man now sitting nearby was one of the folks on the front lines who, with the help of India, defeated the Pakistani Army and won independence for what was to become the country of Bangladesh. And frankly his face said it all. Both of us wanted to engage each other more intensely but the language barrier prevented this, which is a real shame as I am certain his story is a fascinating one.
So now I needed to get a taxi to finish the trip. A business man offered to share a CNG (autorickshaw) with me which I gladly accepted. It would have been nice to know that his destination was nowhere close to mine even though I clearly indicated the Banani area of Dhaka. So I was treated to a superfluous hour and a half tour of Dhaka. Along the way he got out and his friend/coworker got in, after which we proceeded to make business deliveries (my first copassenger loaded packages into the rickshaw) on his behalf. I’d been sitting on buses for over 17 hours. This was exactly how I wanted to ease my way back into the chaos that is Dhaka. I’ve already mentioned that cruising around in a cramped, caged-in CNG is like stuffing yourself in a motorized birdcage and having a bumper car rally in an asphyxiating dust cloud. Welcome back.
|Female street cleaners in Munshigonj