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 soothing poetry in my mind. Slowly, as 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 spends a decade on the river or long enough of time with the river will he/she listen to its magical tune, having been fallen in love with the 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 the 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 sides. A river in me is flowing languidly and whispering with my soul!
Background of the Song of the River:
I was born in Jessore- Southern district of Bangladesh. Once upon a time, there was a vibrant river called ‘Vairab’ flowing by the city, now getting narrowed and shrunken with the time. In my childhood, on my way to school, I had to cross it every day. This small river’s simple flow of the river always pulled me. However, the first time which river struck me completely was the largest river Padma, which I had to cross on the way to Dhaka. The plenty of colorful sailing boats on this massive river first enthralled me.
After finishing my post-graduation From Dhaka University and MBA from Southeast University, I worked in a different multinational company and then I joined Contic which is a riverine tourism company in Bangladesh. I still can recall those nostalgic moments when I went to visit Savar, Karnapara dockyard, where the largest traditional boat ‘Malar’ was brought down to the Daleshwari river in 2011. Our boat crew member welcomed me by playing the Tabla that created a dramatic scene, making me still touched and nostalgic, as if, it happened in my dream!
My love for the river actually started with visiting the first Dhaleshawri and Bangshi river, which is just one hour’s drive away from Dhaka. As Dhaka city is surrounded by the rivers, so I started to explore Turag, Buriganga, and other rivers. Our boat would navigate through the Dhalewshari and Bangshi river during summer, and in winter, it would navigate through the mighty Padma and Jamuna river. Therefore, I had having experiences to meet the different rivers frequently in different seasons at distinct places of Bangladesh for the last 8/9 years. I think, 9 years is quite a long time to be enamored with the river. I get surprised thinking that when I am deeply involved with the river and its people! Rivers in summer, winter, in monsoon, and the riverine people, and their stories, started to attract me as much as I had known them.
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.
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 on climate change effects and consequences of the disaster.
In the last 9 years as I have had the unique experience to encounter mighty and massive rivers like Ganges and Brahmaputra in the upper stream of Bangladesh also I had the 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.
About Md. Arifuzzaman
From my childhood, I was a big fan of movies. I was grown up with movies and books, plenty of books and they made a deep impact on my mind. In my childhood, I loved to hear the stories from everyone. I love to read different types of books. Reading World classics, thriller, adventure books I wanted to be a writer but I never thought I would be a Photographer. Whenever I felt gloomy, I used to look outside of the widow and my sight was far away. I thought the world is beautiful. Deep inside I have cravings of Photography. I realize outside of my window of the home, the world is so vivid. The different cultures, religion, indigenous people, and their ritual always attract me so much.
However, I finished my graduation and post-graduation in International relations from Dhaka University and MBA from Southeast University. I started work in different private sectors but finally, I am working in the tourism sector which is also related to the preservation of boats. I sacrificed my corporate career in photography. In 2014 I went to Florida and I got a gift for a small camera from my sister in law and my photography journey started. I felt I needed to go more deep inside of it. Later, I finished some photography courses in first light from GMB Akash who is not only renowned in Bangladesh but also acclaimed photographers in the world.
I realized Photography is a long journey from him. I felt I have a keen interest in the festival, street photography, lifestyle, traveling, and architecture as well. Being a photographer, I learned to feel all the tiniest pleasure of life and absorb all abandoned beauty of it. When I capture, I try to capture the picturing time and I am completely lost into it! I forget all the agony during the photoshoot.
You can find Md. Arifuzzaman on the Web :
All the pictures in this post are copyrighted to Md. Arifuzzaman. Their reproduction, even in part, is forbidden without the explicit approval of the rightful owners.