ByÂ Somrita Urni Ganguly:
Cradled by the bay, where life knows no luxury, but makes no complaint, the landscape of Sunderban, the largest mangrove forest in the world, is poetry written by the hands of God. It is not the obvious sort of poetry that appeals to you immediately but the subtle sort that lingers on in unused corner of your mind to haunt your senses naggingly, when perhaps you see a sunset one lonely evening, or hear the quiet song of some faraway sea at sunrise — that’s when you go back to Sunderban imaginatively again and its handful of people, for whom the line between life and death is so blurred that they have to struggle daily to keep this channel of demarcation aflow. Their sole modes of subsistence are fishing and collecting honey. On the land, the tiger prowls stealthily to disbalance them; on the water the waves threaten to swallow them. And yet they live. They have battled the Royal Bengals and the Ailas, the stings of the honey bees and the stings of hunger and yet they live. This photo story is a dedication to the fierce spirit of the people of Sunderban and the land that they live on; five years since Cyclone Aila washed away most of what these marshes had, this photo story is a celebration of what the people still cling on to.
Sometimes the land lets them down; but mostly it lets them live.
When you are alive, you need to show signs of life. After a long hard day, they unwind, the locals, by celebrating their life and their legends. I was lucky to catch a performance of the Bon Bibi’r Pala — a rudimentary stage act hailing the goddess that saves them from the perils of the tiger and the sea, Bon Bibi.
Be it a thatched roof hut, or a glass-ceilinged mansion, it takes a little loving and a lot of living to make it a home.
And when you come out of this marshland, you finally learn to count your blessings, and to be thankful, very very thankful for all that you always had and never appreciated. Because the Sunderbans is a land where life knows no luxury, and yet makes no complaint.