He called out to his wife, “What day is it today?”
“Sunday, Darling,” she called from the bed room and added, “in fact it is Pentecost and I’m getting ready for church.”
“Pentecost?…This reminds me of Pentecost fifty five years ago on our way to Australia. We were in Colombo for a stop-over, do you remember?” he asked her.
“Of course I remember. It was stinking hot and we walked for miles without getting a drink,” she said.
“We didn’t get a drink because we had no money, but I remember Queen Victoria greeting us on arrival,” he chuckled, “she was sitting on the throne overlooking her crumbling empire.”
“It wasn’t her fault her grandchildren started the Great War,” she said entering the study drying her hair with a towel.
“And I was impressed seeing all those religions living side by side. We even entered a mosque. It was beautiful and cool inside there.”
“I liked the Hindu temple too,” she said while giving her hair a good rubbing.
“What wasn’t so cool was the ravens and cats fighting over scraps from the rubbish bins.” He said.
“We should have gone to the cinema and seen an Indian epic,” She said and continued, while brushing her hair into some sort of shape, “people were queuing up and were waiting patiently in the hot sun.”
“I don’t think we would have liked the film. The idea was to see something of the city, not sitting in a stuffy cinema, not understanding a word.” He said and was quiet for a couple of minutes trying to remember. “There was heaps of traffic, cars, ox carts and even double-decker trolley buses.”
He fumbled now in a box full of old photos and said,
“Here is a picture of the trolley bus. and the building at the street corner could have well been the cinema. What you think?”
“Sorry, Darling. I have no time to think. I have to get ready for church. I expect the Bishop to be there:”
“That is important, isn’t it?” he asked. “There was also some sort of procession led by a VW van with a blaring loudspeaker on top of it.”
“Yes, I remember now, Darling, the Buddhist priests in their yellow robes were quite a spectacle and also people with drums. But I have to hurry now. I’ll be back half past ten and we will have a cup of tea then.”
He heard the front door slam shut and he was alone. He could still remember how friendly the people in Colombo were. They were all smiling and they did not mind being photographed.
“I wonder, whether they are still like that after the civil war,” he thought. The city must have changed into something more modern. In deed it has.
(Black and white photos, copyright Peter Hannemann)