Photographer Md.Arifuzzaman is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this documentary photography. From the project ‘The Song of the River: Bangladesh’. To see Arif’s body of work, click on any image.
“Why she whispers like water” – Jibonando Das.
What is the song of the river? Does it really sing a song? To know this answer, I had to set up close ties with rivers spending more time over there! When I look back, I recall those uncountable enigmatic moments that stir me completely with its largeness, yet a very calm and soothing tune, ringing in through its ever flowing water stream!
The life on the river reminds me Mystic sufi Jalaluddin rumi’s enchanting words- Sobhet on the Riverbank though Sobhet has no English meaning equivalent. It means something like Mystical conversation on mystical subjects. The great philosopher Rumi’s thoughts Meeting on the river bank, the livelihoods of riverine people in the enchanting twilight makes a soothing poetry in my mind. Slowly, as the time moved on, my time spent with the helmsman, sailor, boat, and the surrounding environment of the river made a surrealistic image in my mind. It seems I can read the mystical conversation of the river. Witnessing breathtaking blue hour or breathtaking wedding hour on the river makes a surrealistic image in my mind further and further. Anyone spend a decade on the river or long enough of time with river will he/she listen its magical tune, having been fallen in love with river.
The strange name and beauty of the river
What is the life of Bangladesh? What is the blood of Bangladesh? I get the answer, as when I set out to sail on a boat through rivers searching for the country’s source of blood and oxygen- like arteries circulating blood throughout our body. Bangladesh is actually the land of rivers, a delta island, created by the rivers all around and these rivers have also connected us to its rhythm and illusion. There are strange beautiful names on the river. For instance, there is Fulkumari river (means ‘virgin flower’) and fokirni river ( used in local tone means ‘beggar’). The river’s names are given after the beautiful names of Birds like, peacock, pigeon, and cuckoo! Besides, there are also bizarre names like, robber, fanatic. Some names give utmost peace into our heart like, dusk, dahuk, dhanshiri (paddy stairs) etc. There are countless beautiful names of the river and the story behind it. Actually, these rivers have been flowing by the localities for years telling their stories on different names and tastes!
“A river in me:
There is a strange darkness remains in the house,
when all the rivers return to the dusk”- Jibonando Das.
I do not know where I am heading, l do not know either where this boat taking me away! All I know beneath the hailing clouds, on the soft river the twilight is playing the strange flute in my heart that neither I heard nor I felt before! When I see the river, it seems it is flowing both on my inner and outer side. A river in me is flowing languidly and whispering with my soul!
The Song of the River in my frame
I started on this project from 2014 or even before till early 2020. Doing this project I realized something is missing in my frame. Therefore, I took the risk during covid 19 and went to the Turag River which flows on the heart of Dhaka and took some shots for accomplishing this project. I tried to show the charm of the different river’s beauty as much as possible in different corners of Bangladesh. However, all the images are captured by Camera. For some shots I scaled to the hilltop and gave my best effort. I did not use drones here.
Given the beauty of rivers, there are millions of the people and their livelihood directly involved with the river. People live, grow up, and pass their entire life with these rivers. In the course of time, climate change, erosion of the soil, hazard, flood and deadly natural disasters, made a shattering effect on these people. In this project consciously, I tried to showcase the positive side- the charm of the river rather than to elaborate climate change effects and consequences of the disaster.
In the last 9 years as I have had unique experience to encounter mighty and massive rivers like Ganges and Brahmaptura in the upper stream of Bangladesh also I had incredible experience to face the enchanting fiercely river Sangu in the downstream southern part of Bangladesh. From North to south, east and west I roamed and sailed by the boat on the rivers of Bangladesh. As we know there are more than 600 rivers flowing through Bangladesh. However, it is not possible to cover all the rivers in this story. I tried to capture the major key rivers of Bangladesh in the last 5 years in my frame. Most of the rivers originate from the confluence of Ganga and Brahmaputra that source from different glaciers of Himalaya. Every river has its own beauty and charm. In spite of the fact, I must mention here Sangu is the very few of the rivers, which both originated and ended its journey in Bangladesh. The pacific Sangu could be very dreadful in the monsoon time that no one can imagine! Of all the rivers, the wild beauty and mystic charm of Sangu took a special place in my heart.
As the Rivers are seemed to be the arteries of this land, supplying its oxygen to the various parts and helping us keep alive. In my opinion, saving rivers is like saving our souls! The song of the river is the real beauty of Bangladesh to show the world. Like me, if anyone spent a long time on the river one day he or she would have to listen to the enchanting song of the river.
All images and text © Md.Arifuzzaman
Arif’s Previous Contributions To Edge Of Humanity Magazine
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