I had the occassion to visit the capital of Bangladesh, Dacca. During the days of the British Raj Dacca was the second city in Bengal after Calcutta. After the creation of Bangladesh it became the capital of the state.
Dacca is a sprawling city and has a population of almost 11 million. The city by standards of Mumbai and Delhi is cheap. But it scores over all other cities with its Cycle Riksha population. Dacca at a conservative estimate has over 400,000 cycle riksha's. These are a cheap form of travel, but at times they cause traffic snarls that take hoursto untangle.
I wished to travel in a Cycle Riksha and accordingly chose a red canopy riksha. The driver was a strong Bengali from Sylhet and he asked me if I was an Indian. I wonder how these men can smell the nationality of an individual.
As if on cue a heavy rain shower commenced and the Riksha man decided to park under a large tree till the rain abated. Being inquisitive I asked the man about his life. What he told me was fascinating. he mentioned that he had come to Dacca to drive a riksha so as to earnmoney to pay back a loan he had taken from aMoney lender( Shaukar). He mentioned the loan was Taka 1000. Not a big amount, but he could not pay back the loan.
So what happened ?. The Riksha puller told me that he struck a barter agreement with the money lender. The man agreed to write of the Taka 1000 for the elder daughter of the Riksha puller. I was taken aback at this information. How old was his daughter? He mentioned she was 16 and how old was the money lender? He it appears was over 55.
So the Riksa puller took his daughter to the lender and the man took her in his custody. A woman bought like cattle ? The man showed no remorse. But what he said further knocked me down. Sahib, he said I can give you my second daughter, she is a year younger and you can take her to India. But I will charge you 1500 taka !.I was a little numbed, but that is the way life is. I thougt to share it with my readers on this site.