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Drifting in cage and out again
Hark unknown bird does fly
Shackles of my mind
If my arms could entwine
With them I would thee bind
Rooms it had eight
And doors it had nine
Windows betwixt you find
Up above the glittering hall
Mirrors might make you blind
What fate alas makes bird do thus
Caged bird breaks free to fly
Of bamboo raw the cage I saw
This mind of mine still longs oh so
Lalon Fakir cries as he sees with his eyes
The cage wither and go*
The body, the soul, the self, the universe, Lalon saw freedom not as an entity outside oneself, but as a lived experience. Within yet afar. Ephemeral but tactile. With wings but encaged.
New forms of slavery form new forms of chains. Violence suffered in silence. Ancestral land commandeered. Resistance made illegal.
What mask does freedom now wear? Freedom to profit is the new elixir. Freedom to reach distant markets, to exploit cheap labour. The word that takes us to such dizzying heights leaves the deepest of wounds with its loss. ‘Foreign’ sounding names, ‘wrong’ coloured skin, ‘different’ passports, circumscribe our new freedoms.
Going beyond walls built to occupy territory. Beyond bombs dropped to coerce the unarmed. Beyond cells built to hold the other. Artists paint with colours that don’t exist. Write with words as yet un-invented. Photograph where light is yet to reach. The cage. The door. The wing. The soul. Freedom.
Shahidul Alam
Festival Director
Chobi Mela V
We invite photographers working in the fields of photojournalism, fine art, conceptual or any other field of photography, to interpret the theme “Freedom” in the widest sense possible. Submissions may be made online from 1st March 2008 through to 31st May 2008. Selections will be made by 15th June 2008. Final work must be submitted by 31st July 2008. Festival opens 6th November 2008. Submission guidelines will be available online.
*Translation by Shahidul Alam from “khachar bhitor ochin pakhi” by Lalon Shah.

Published inBangladeshcultureDrik and its initiativesPhotographyShahidul Alam


  1. Afsan Chowdhury Afsan Chowdhury

    Dosh bar porlam. Bhalo laga shesh hotey chay na. The most expressionist translation of Lalon ever done. The rest of the text is wretchedly good. Amar bhasha kulabey na bhalo boltey. Parley ei lekhar shommmaney ami ekta kichu submit kortam.
    Ki oshadharon.
    bhalo theko.

  2. This is the most moving call for entries I’ve ever seen. One does want to take the camera and go out to seek areas where as you say “light is yet to reach.”
    Thank you –Chulie

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