The photo story reflects the dialogue with my mother through my camera. My mother and I used to belong at different poles. She was trafficked to Sethbagan from Malkangiri in the state of Orissa where I was born. She had to become a sex worker.
In search of my mother I came to Kolkata with my grandmother. Initially it was a stage of alienation for both of us, my mother, Kavita and myself. Photography, in fact, has united us thus I call it as a dialogue through camera. I didn’t like her profession and that was an obvious aspect but gradually I realized the fragile relationship could be strong when more I take photographs of my mother more I can overcome the alienation. It’s challenging for a son who is not an ‘outsider’ taking pictures of my mother and it’s me who as a son taking pictures of all oddities breaking the stigma and taboo.
My photography journey started in 2000 through a project “Empowering Sex Workers’ Children through Photography” supported by UNICEF.
I remember the very first day when the facilitator visited our area and sitting on the floor meeting with the then small kids asked me “ whom do you love in your family”.
I was shy and nervous in replying to his question. I took some time and finally hesitantly responded that I love my mother. The second question was “why”.
This time I didn’t have any hesitation to state that ‘I miss her’. He handed over me a small compact analogue camera and asked me to photograph my mother, family and the surroundings revolving around her. He started teaching us how to compose a picture and so on so forth.
I have seen some photographers coming from different parts of the country as well from abroad taking pictures in the so-called ‘red light’ areas. The mainstream society and the outsiders call our areas red light but as an insider I never dub our localities in that term. Likewise, as an insider it was really challenging job to work in the locality where I live and particularly taking photographs of my mother was a tremendous difficult task. The challenging because it’s a sort of ‘facing one’s own’. The interpersonal relationship with my mother till date is complicated. It has an emotional aspect as well as an institutional aspect. So, I tried to capture through my images the interpersonal relationship with my mother.