‘Life is a Circus’


“Behind the curtain there is a different world, a world of people who are living far from the crowd, the people who serve entertainment daily artists. Circus people’s lives is a mystery and their performance never can define their mysticism. A Group of shining artists are surviving in the world of circus by facing continual adversity of entertainment in small corners of Bangladesh. Major audiences showed them negligence already but still they are moving hard with their glorious history. These nomad performers move monthly from place to place, their dreams take new shape as their house move i new place every month. By their hands they demolish their own house for shifting it in another territory. Still they only think about their performance. Nor money neither fame touches their feet. To them life is a circus, they are performer of life’s stage.”

– GMB Akash

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In front of the close circus gate, curious crowd of slum children remain permanent who hardly get chance to enter. Circus get a place that is usually a large space as atleast 60-100 people has to accommodate in their temporary residence and the stage has to build within that space too.  So the circus is big, vibrant and take a place in  empty spaces which are mostly far from the city. 

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A teenage performer Sharmin (13) was locating her makeup box in the tiny room of her that has been separated by a curtain as in the other side her parents use to sleep. She said, ‘The sad thing is my mirror broke while my father demolished our previous house. It takes one day to build this new house. Now this is my new home for next one month’. Sharmin was just three years old while she performed first time with her mother. Her mother and grandmother both are passing their lives in circus. Sharmin has 15 different dresses for performing in stage. She has her instructor who taught her different plays, while answering she giggled, ‘My Guru beaten me more than our donkey. Circus donkey and I attend same class and perform same time. I fall down many times and got hurt but you know, an artist has to suffer lot, my guru told me so, that’s why I never bother. One day I will be the best performer.’ Sharmin gets 2000 tk monthly. She along her four family members all are occupied in circus.

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These artist works for eleven months and they get vacation for one month . Company hire them for one year, after one year their contract renew by condition. The company is responsible for two-time food of all artists. For six days food are lentil, rice and smash potato, rest one day fish and vegetable. For moving from one place to another company send their track, performer break their own house and move for new place. In the new place they build their house again by themselves.

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Sharmin’s mother Shilpi shared ‘I born in circus. Circus is my family and so my blood belongs to it. Three of my daughters are in circus. What else we can do? Sometimes I feel to know the world behind the gate, but then I feel that world is not for us. I belong to circus, circus has  given a life to my creativity and I will one day die like my mother by giving birth of my best performance’. Just nearby Sharmin’s tent another lady Shipra loadly says, ‘What are you looking for? The makeup is my veil. Before starting the music we are one kind of person and after hearing the announcement of the show we are far different from the person you are interviewing now.’

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Bijon can shallow 20-25 fishes and can bring them out alive from his body, he says ‘For mentoring cricketer, footballer, dancer, singer government brings many persons from aboard, but here in Opera or for Circus no one bring any mentor. We only create our games, we only show ourselves, and we only stand by ourselves. For us nobody cares.’

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While Selina was wearing her makeup she whisper and says, ‘I am no longer an ordinary girl. Now I will fly over everyone’. Coming back from the stage after her ten min performance, Selina recklessly said, ‘Sometime audiences pass bad comments on us. I do not bother and no other girl bother here. Stop letting other people influence your attitude, your hope, your potential to do something great. Stop worrying and start doing.’

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Heena (38) is singing song loudly while sewing her traditional blanket with her fresh make up. ‘Its my daily life, we do not mix with outside men, I like no one from my circus team, so I am still single and happily living my life” Announcer announced her name and she swiftly keep her blanket in a bench then after touching the platform of circus with respect, within a second she goes in the top of the pang and scrolled slide down her head, with a jump she come down by catching another rope. Screaming of audiences seems no reaction on Heena’s face. She came back, seat in her bench, started sewing the blanket and reply “What else you want to ask? We are human just like you, as like your sister or as like your mother, won’t we? “

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At the ending day Lilliputian Shre Anil Chandra (50) was packing his things. A lone man has nothing much than gifts from different villages. The man who made jokes throughout plays is very reserve in back stage. He talk less, share less. His bed and his trunk is his property. “World is round. We move from place to place. Women of circus sometimes cry but men never. I wait to go to a new place to see new audiences. I enjoy my gypsy life’.

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“This is not the ending. Circus will rise in another place, in another village. Children of that village will run to the gate of circus again. Vendors will take a place to attract customers again. Circus artists will avail their charismatic techniques for another jaw dropping performance.  Audiences from far and near will encircle the area. Heena might finish her sewing by that time; Sharmin might get a new mirror from her mother. Never ends, never be lost – Life is a Circus”

– GMB Akash

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22 thoughts on “‘Life is a Circus’

  1. Pingback: A University we call Life | I N N E R D I A L E C T

  2. The second picture–the one of the little girl in a circle–had me saying, “Oh my God!!!” I am incredibly moved by this post. So glad I found your site because, so far, everything you’ve posted has been incredible. Your pictures and accompanying quotes and the stories you tell are stunning. Incomprehensible. Amazing. Moving. Saddening… Life. Wow. Thank you so much, even if this story is sad… Sigh.

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    • I want to deliver stories of unheard, stories which continually overlooked by most of us. I am glad my small effort gives you this feelings. Thanking you for writing your emotions my friend.

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    • I try to tell the stories which is important to me. I often do not know about life behind the curtain as well what a artist feel from inside, these are indescribable through photography but I try to capture their elements of life to describe their life, their dream and their adversities.

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