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Shahadat Parvez

Photo by *Shahadat Parvez*

It was 18 December 2006. When I reached Saiful’s house at Itahata in Gazipur, near Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka, it was already afternoon.

A big poster of the French national football team from that year’s World Cup Finals was stuck on the wall of Saiful’s shanty house. Saiful was standing beside the poster and was smiling in a way that suggested that he was dreaming of bringing the World Cup trophy to Bangladesh. Filtered through the leaves of nearby trees, the golden sunlight playing on his face made his smile even more glorious.

Saiful’s hero was French football star Zinedine Zidane. On 7 November 2006, while on a visit to Bangladesh, Zidane took part in a friendly match with 21 students from Mazlishpur School. Saiful, who was just 12 at the time, scored a goal against his hero’s team. Originally he hadn’t been selected to play because he was considered too thin. But his skills in the practice matches won him a place, and the number 10 shirt – worn by Zidane for France. After the match, Zidane greeted Saiful and presented him with a football – which is now his prize possession.

The sun was setting. Time for me to return home. Saiful followed me up to the end of his village. As I walked along the village path I wondered: will Saiful’s dream be fulfilled or will he be lost, like so many other promising children of Bangladesh?

Shahadat Parvez is the senior photojournalist at the Daily Prothom Alo in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
[email protected]

Shahadat Parvez

In Bangladesh, bauls are devotees of a spiritual idea of simplicity. From my boyhood I have had a kind of fascination for their songs. It grew more intense when I began working as a photographer. When I took this man’s picture, I was enthralled by his song.

It was 31 March 2005. The premises of the Institute of Fine Art at Dhaka University had no room to move about and there was a crowd of bauls who gathered to sing songs.

The singer was singing ‘Things will remain undone, if time goes wrong’, a masterpiece by spiritual writer Lalan, under clouds of twisting smoke of siddhi, a form of cannabis.

The followers of Lalan usually sing his songs based on the philosophy of dehatattva, an attempt to combine the body and the soul, searching for the creator among his creations. Avoiding the urban or even rural crowd, they live in barren places.

Uplighting and the rising smoke of dhup (incense) blowing through spaces between the branches of a bakul tree created the setting. In such an environment, the baul, in a red vest, sang unmindfully. And I pressed the shutter.

*Shahadat Parvez* is the deputy chief photojournalist at the _Daily Prothom Alo_ in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

By arrangement with Drik Photo Library