Deserted Paths of North Bengal

Tejaswinee Roychowdhury

Paths, whether footbridges or dirt roads or railroads, indisputably exist with a purpose. They were never intended to be deserted when they were created. But paths are deserted, as though such a fate is inevitable.

I often wonder: Do they face existential crises when they are deserted? Do they continue to stand alone with hope and faith or do they continue to stand out of helplessness?

But the question that haunts me is this: Are they wary of the indifference of their surroundings? To me, the word ‘empty’ signifies emotional emptiness, and the word ‘spaces’ means physical places; but when I put the two words together, ‘empty spaces’ remind me of the indifference of the universe towards deserted places.

Through this photograph series, allow me to take you to three deserted paths I found during my 2020 pre-pandemic trip to the northern districts of West Bengal in India – or as we collectively call them, North Bengal. There were tourists around me, albeit a handful, yet these paths stood deserted either completely or for a moment in time.

Suntaleykhola, a village and tourist attraction in Eastnar Forest (Gorubathan, Kalimpong District in West Bengal, India). A footbridge stands over a stream, alone and drenched in rain while the hills and her trees remain indifferent.

Jaldapara National Park, home to the largest population of the nearly extinct Indian one-horned rhinos, at the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas on the banks of the Torsa River (Alipurduar District in West Bengal, India). A dirt road stands in the middle of a clearing, alone, while the forest and her creatures remain indifferent.

Ellenbarrie Tea Garden, a privately owned tea estate between National Highway 17 and the Teesta River (Malbazar, Jalpaiguri District of West Bengal, India). A railroad stands in the middle of a tea garden, alone while the tea plantations and their underpaid workers remain indifferent.

Tejaswinee Roychowdhury is an Indian lawyer, writer, poet, artist and photographer. Her works have been published worldwide and can be found on her website. Twitter (@TejaswineeRC).

Two Photos

Karin Hedetniemi

My visual art is inspired by emotionally transportive experiences during my walks – a perceived enchantment of being the only one in the world, or a sense of wonder from so much ordinary beauty. I take spontaneous photographs of landscapes and empty urban spaces, capturing the purity of a fleeting witnessed moment. My images are often dream-like and timeless, evoking feelings of nostalgia, mystery, and solitude.

Spaces Inside Spaces

When I took ‘Spaces Inside Spaces’ I was inside a crowded international airport on a busy travel weekend. Yet wandering just a few gates away, I found myself strangely alone in unoccupied, abandoned spaces.

The Ethereal Nothingness

With ‘The Ethereal Nothingness’, I had woken one morning to the lure of ship horns sounding in the fog. I took my camera down to the sea and disappeared into the mist.

Karin Hedetniemi is a nonfiction writer and photographer from Vancouver Island, Canada. Her atmospheric images appear in numerous literary journals including Barren Magazine, CutBank and Parentheses; on the covers of Pithead Chapel and 3Elements Review; and have been nominated for Best of the Net. Find her online or on Twitter (@karinhedet).

Flying Eros

Fabio Sassi

I shot this photo one summer morning of the ’90s, just a few minutes after Eros had been freed from scaffoldings.

Fabio Sassi makes photos and acrylics that take the everyday and ordinary and frame it in a different way. He lives in Bologna, Italy and his work can be viewed online.

ghost coast

Elancharan Gunasekaran

This photo was captured sometime during the covid-19 pandemic on the eastern coast of Singapore. The shot is a reminder of rising sea levels, disappearing coastlines and of a bleak future should we turn a blind eye on our ecosystems and natural environment.

Elancharan Gunasekaran is inspired by Dadaist movements, butoh and anarchism. He believes that humans are capable of governing themselves without the need of political systems. His art often involves experimenting with visual and literary forms on the raw aspects of the human condition, climate change and man-made / natural phenomena.


Shawn Ferrari

This photo was taken in my hometown and to me, it evokes this feeling of being slowly swallowed by something you can’t change, something that stays the same or keeps getting bigger and bigger until you’re swallowed whole by it and left with nothing. It has that in common with empty spaces where nothing will change in either space unless deliberate actions are taken to change the space; or, as one of my therapists has put it, nothing changes if nothing changes.

Shawn Ferrari (she/they) writes different third-person bios each time that she submits her work to publications, but they’re unsure if anyone has caught on to that. What people have probably seen though is her work in Wrongdoing Magazine, HOLYFLEA!, Queerlings and her twitter (@cursed_car).

The Bliss of Morning Solitude

Sambhu Nath Banerjee

During our trip to North Bengal sometime in March a few years back with family and friends, we got down at this station, New Mal Junction. It was not even dawn; the sky was just getting fairer. We waited for the darkness to disappear, and found a thick pall of fog wrapping the air around us. As all the members moved out of the station, I felt a divine tranquillity of the place, and captured the moment to be preserved for posterity.

Passion for travelling imbued with an ardent love for photography inspires me as much as my craving for creative writing. The elements encrypted in Empty Space find a graphic expression in ‘The Bliss of Morning Solitude’. The concept of emptiness of a space can be heightened by the subliminal presence of other objects. In this photograph, the glimpse of a denuded tree in the backdrop of foggy canvas truly brings out the essence of the Empty Space theme.

Sambhu Nath Banerjee (Ph.D.) from Kolkata, India is passionate about photography and writing on cinemas and social issues. His works appear in Cafe Dissensus, Muse India, Borderless and 3Elements.

Atmospheric Froth

Irene Cunningham

I think what makes this image is the remnant of the old popular fashion emporium – What Every Woman Wants. What a statement to leave in an empty building. I snapped the pic from a moving bus, realising that they were about to demolish the block. Memories of Glasgow, a derelict tenement on Argyle St which has been replaced. That sang, Space, to me. It was manipulated slightly on PicsArt. Most cities/towns will be different for our grandchildren, not the same environment we grew up in. In my late teens I bought a new dress every weekend from there for a pound, and danced the evening away up in the Sauchiehall St night-clubs.

Irene Cunningham has had many poems in many magazines and anthologies over the decades. In 2019, Hedgehog Press published, SANDMEN: A Space Odyssey, a poetry conversation with Diana Devlin. In 2022, Dreich Press published her first solo chapbook, No Country for Old Woman. She moved to Brighton last year.

terrible ghost


This photo was taken on a walk after a concert in Brooklyn New York a few months ago. When I was thinking about which photographs would fit with the theme of Empty Space, I picked this one because I believe it captures the feeling of the empty NYC streets that are usually filled with cars and people. Instead the streets are occupied by the rain and the occasional pedestrian.

bedfordtowers is a film photographer based in Scranton Pennsylvania. He has worked with musicians in New York City and Los Angeles and has been published in over a dozen magazines and zines.

Into the Void (Glasgow, 2018)

Ignatius Primadi

When I arrived in Glasgow, I started the trip by visiting Necropolis and ended the day in The Lighthouse. I was awed by the city gloom, the architecture of the city of the dead, and the lifeless ambiance. To some extent, The Lighthouse was empty but charming. I could feel the dullness of the void. Yet, I could also embrace the beauty of the spiral staircase. Most importantly, the silence reminded me of mortality. 

These elements really fill the hollow of the Lighthouse from top to bottom or vice versa, depending on your perspective.

Ignatius Primadi is a mundane and reflective writer who enjoys visual poetry and has written personal poems since 2008. Fond of romanticism, his imagination is influenced by music, photography and science. 

Larnaca Bay, March 2021

Ilias Tsagas

Ilias Tsagas is a Greek poet writing in English and in Greek. His poems have appeared at the Sand Journal, The Shanghai Literary Review, streetcake magazine, Tint Journal, the Away With Words Anthology (Vol 4) and elsewhere. He was also a runner-up at the Briefly Write Poetry Prize 2021.