A boatful people, walking with their knees dipped in thick mud; some carrying luggage, some their ailing parents, spouse or children, some their bi-cycle; all balancing themselves and marching to reach the land was quite a quite common scenario to people residing near the river Matla. Fortunately, it cannot be seen anymore.
Matla is located at the gateway of Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest. The people living in the interior of this area have fewer options to commute to the main land other than crossing this river. Till the end of 2010, the people had to suffer like in hell while crossing the river. During the summer and also the winter, at the time of low tide, the riverbed becomes so dry that the boat can ferry people up to about 500 yards from the jetties. The passengers had to then wade through the mud. On the other hand, in the monsoon, Matla becomes rouge. The turbulent river then poses threats to sink the boats, so much so that people would hardly want to cross the river. This situation is now gone, giving the people a great relief, since the bridge is built across the Matla riverbed.
I had been travelling to this place to photograph for a few years. It was during the time when I had started doing photography. I could see the struggle of the people while crossing this stretch of the river and tried to capture their strife to reach for their destination. I could also see the hope of this exertion coming to end as the pillars of the proposed bridge on the river had started to be built. It was in the year 2008. The then state government had, thankfully, completed building the bridge over the river in a couple years and it was open for public use in the beginning of 2011. This put an end to the wretched condition of the people living on both the sides of Matla. There are places in West Bengal, where the inmates are still waiting to be blessed with such supports from the government.
While capturing the struggle of the people, from behind the viewfinder, I sometime had to be at their position to cover the frame from close enough. I could feel the fight that these people gave to all oddities, day in and day out. Every single moment of their fight told me, live life to express, not to impress.