New Internationalist

Highlighting the work of photographers from the Majority World

May 2005

We are at the mercy of the river. Sometimes it spares us the agony of shifting out. Sometimes it doesn’t. But almost always it haunts us.’ Zoinuddin is a grizzled 70 years old. He is one of the people who live on the temporary islands of the River Brahmaputra, which are constantly flooded. I first met him when I was on an assignment for Outlook magazine. I came back with enough pictures for my magazine. But I returned to the same place a year later to photograph independently. It was then that I saw this sunken boat being pulled out of the water. The immense labour put in by these people to retrieve the boat struck me as the perfect symbol of their daily struggle for survival. It was as if through this one picture I had captured the essence of the lives of the people of the temporary islands of the Brahmaputra.

Swapan Nayak, India. By arrangement with Drik Picture Library Ltd,

Front cover of New Internationalist magazine, issue 378 This column was published in the May 2005 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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