Documentary

Men and The Sea

Shankarpur

India.

There are many strange stories of life in the stream of water, stories that start from zero and end in zero. The life of the fishermen floats like the pros and cons of the current. Their struggle begins in the dreamy light of dawn. The wind filled to the tune of Bhatiali. They dream a thousand dreams every day in the vast net, the dream is shattered by the current. Every day this murmur of melody awakens them in the hope of getting something new.

At the break of dawn they start from their villages about twenty to twenty five kilometers away from the Shankarpur coast riding their cycles. They had left their fishing boat overnight on the beach, their fishing net spread on the sand floor to dry. Years together this has been their daily routine no matter whatever be the season unless of course the sea is extremely turbulent and there is a weather alarm cautioning against an approaching cyclonic storm of very severe nature.

Some would even dare ignore such warnings from met office and ride the rough sea risking their lives. A day on the shore is a penniless day and they have mouths to feed at home. At times when they go for bigger haul they would venture out into deep sea spending a whole week or a couple of days more in their boats. In the early hours of dawn a fishing boat spreads net over some long stretch of the waters to trap shoals of fishes which is eventually pulled ashore by a team of fishermen.

When the catch is plenty they smile big. They then carry ashore the boat on their shoulder humming rhythmic tunes like a lullaby. The big chainlike net is hung on bamboo scaffolding and the boat once again left to dry on beach for the next morning. At dusk the beach wears a deserted look, while a lonely wanderer is occasionally found intently inspecting the slow waves gently kissing the shoreline. Skeleton of a tree uprooted by the devastating super-cyclone Amphan in May 2020 stoops over the forlorn beach casting ghostly shadow on the sandy floor littered with different patterns of different color left by withdrawing waves, by small crabs and snails.

Fishermen’s lives are bound to the sea in a strange two-pronged relation. It’s both bounty and nemesis for them. The relation is mutually inclusive. Emptied of the bustling fishermen and their boats at the end of the day, the sea becomes a huge watery void and it moans in loneliness.

Rakesh Dutta

Myself Rakesh Dutta, I like to preserve my thoughts with my photographs. I get my photographic inspirations from, many Indian and Western photographer's works, foreign cinemas, paintings, Western and Indian classical music.

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