I have been afraid of dogs as far back as I can remember. Whenever I saw a dog on the street, I would walk the other way or wait till the dog went its own way. During my elementary school years, there were so many dogs in the school neighborhood and being extremely fearful of them, I used to wait around for someone, anyone, to come by so that I could cross the street full of dogs without being alone and frightened. I can’t explain it, but dogs just gave me the creeps, even though I’ve never been bitten.
My cynophobia continued well into 2012. However, after starting to attend Begart Photography Institute later that year, my feelings towards these canines took about turn. I found the deepest form of devotion from Moti, my instructor ImtiazAlamBeg’s dog and just fell in love with the beautiful creature. Never could I have imagined that a dog is capable of displaying more soul than most people. And now, I am glad to admit that I love dogs the most in the whole animal kingdom.
You would find dogs everywhere in Dhaka. Mostly strays on the streets. There is also a culture of having different breeds of foreign dogs as house pets, mostly to emphasize one’s social status and sense of style. On the other hand, Bangladesh, being a country of Muslim majority, has this culture of despising dogs – which is quite unfortunate and based mostly on religious myths than hard facts. Some of the more radical and ignorant populace, especially elderlies, would even boycott a relative or friend if they have dogs in the house. The whole scenario is full of contradictions. From my early childhood, I have seen many dogs abducted from the streets and killed off subsequently just for the crime of being a dog, perceived as harmful and a menace to the society.
I started this project after ImtiazBhaia’s dog Moti passed away. Moti taught me not only to shake off my unreasonable fear of dogs but also how to see the world differently.
Since the beginning of civilization, animals have been an integral part of human lives. Existence itself is a complicated phenomenon. It’s not always something that has to be visible or can be touched by hands. Existence is a feeling. My subconscious mind looked for the connection among this existence all around. My attention ran after the movement of lives. Lives of people, lives of not-so-people. The expression and magnitude of the existence of different selves are different, new and striking. Including us, the humans, and all the components in this society need to accept all these existences, for the balance of Mother Nature. It always amazed me when I used to find the interdependent relations among different creatures and selves. Here, one gives meaning to another. All of them have different functions to perform that support another. Sometimes, we notice something that never happened before or never became visible to our eyes but if someone can feel this co-existence by heart, one would not be surprised to see the newness; rather one will welcome this newness. I gradually learnt to explore this world of coexistence. The creatures, elements and phenomena in the society began treating me as one of their. They unleashed their mysterious relationship of co-existence in front of my lens.
In the modern mechanized cities, people may not depend on animals for livelihood or security as much, but, in every new or old society, people had to coexist with animals. Interaction with animals takes various forms, such as medical necessity to emotional support. These relations were always friendly. Living in close surrounding of animals teaches us humbleness, honesty and sensitivity. I can feel that I have become more compassionate person by getting close to the strays in the city.
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