When we started documenting Odisha for it’s remarkable stories – we looked for the obvious – places to eat, monuments, places to shop etc. Over time, we felt compelled to document and share real stories that make a city what it is – its people and create an exhaustive catalogue of smaller towns and people living there.
Portraits from the street is an attempt to get you unheard of stories from people’s lives and give a sneak-peek behind the endless tales etched on faces. It’s an effort to document real people, real struggle, real wins and some incomprehensible losses. Who knows what might end up inspiring us or even better, changing us altogether.
Presenting Portraits From The Street: [Part 1 – Berhampur]
1. The Fish Will Thrive
In a dimly lit corner near the railway station, Sushma sits calling out for people who would buy her fish.
After talking to her a little, I got to know she was from a village in the outskirts of Berhampur.
“Do you live nearby?”
“No, I live in a slum seven kilometers from here. I come here to sell my fish.”
“Then you should pack up and return home since it might rain”
“I would rather find refuge under the roofs of one of these nearby shops. At home, it gets worse when it is raining. The walls wreck, the floor turns into a swamp and the water from the gutter outside comes crashing in. It’s scary to sleep in the night under a ceiling that might give in anytime. But every night when I lie down and the tiny rain-drops which have sneaked in fall on my face, I find solace in the thought that outside, the fish must be breeding”.
She said and went back to her work. And I returned back convinced, that the power of hope can make life much easier.
2. A Daughter Will Be My Biggest Gift!
I met Ajay, a young local guy who works as a waiter at a small dhaba on the busy streets of Berhampur, when it was about sunset. I asked him about his family and son, who were busy glaring at an ice cream stall nearby.
“He is four years old now. Whatever I and my wife make gets drained in our livelihood. But I sometimes take him to work with me, to remind myself that I should be able to send him to school by next year.”
“That’s great.Does your wife also work?”
“Yes, she works as a domestic help at a hostel nearby. I tell her to not get over-burdened since we are expecting a baby in three months. But she says all the hard-work will be compensated, if we are fortunate enough to have a baby girl this time”
In a country, where majority of people see a girl child as a liability, there are people like Ajay and his wife who despite having far less than most of us, are able to set an example for others to follow.
[Photos and credits: Bijaya Biswal and Gyandeep Sarangi]