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Death and Deliverance in Kolkata

Santanu Chakraborty

Kolkata, India. 2014

I have tried leaving photography, but it doesn’t leave me. But in the process of pursuing this life I have lost many others. All my close human relations have now come to an end. I am increasingly ill from long periods of fieldwork and stress. Increasingly alone from constant work. I wonder if it all has been worth it. Yet what I seek most is solitude. I struggle to work only for myself but am not free from the lure of recognition. My work goes nowhere. And yet I cannot stop.

To rest and reflect, I go to an embankment by the Ganges and sit there alone, often in the darkness watching  the river flow relentlessly. And peer into myself, my past and wonder about the future. Will my work move others? Will my work be known? Will I have the strength to continue irrespective?

Looking behind I am startled to find that I am watched over by a mural of Kali, the Goddess of death for some.  But she looks increasingly benevolent to me. I choose to sit under her watch every night watching lovers and loners.

People come and people go. I stay late until the locals tell me I will miss the last subway home. I have missed it many times forgetting in pursuit of a calling I do not understand.  .

Sitting here I now catch myself having difficulty photographing people and being increasingly drawn to objects many of which that have reached the end of their life; those that have been used and discarded. They will soon be swallowed by the rising tide. Perhaps they too reflect on life and death for a few final moments as they rest alongside me by the Ganges in Kolkata.