Thursday, June 02, 2005

16 days: Sufia's Grandson (and more)

Sufia - The Grandson

The grave of Sufia's son, Shahuddin, is in Azimpur, just about a 15 minute drive down the road from where the family stays. It is massive Muslim cemetary, and I follow the solemn family past rows and rows of graves and marble slates, noting how different people try to make their loved ones comfortable even after death - carpet grass, fresh flowers, miniature fences and ocassional ornament.

We reach the end of the compound, and right next to the low wall is a plot of land vastly different from the rest of the place. Here the soil is hard and brittle, it looks almost bleached by the sun. There are no trees, no grass, to shelter those lying underneath. These are the unmarked graves, where the poor lay buried anonymously.

Sufia walks along a narrow path, and suddenly she stops and kneels, running her hand over the raised ground. I am puzzled. There is not a single marker on this plot of land - how does she remember where her son is?

A religious man arrives, and the whole family stands at the side while he chants prayers standing over the grave. Mama stands next to him, scattering water from a vial over the ground and us. Midway, the women kneel, their faces completely shrouded by the sari cloth they have pulled over their heads. I cannot see their faces, but their shaking shoulders tell me all I need to know.

Throughout all this, Sayara looks on silently. He knows it's not the right time to make trouble, and I wonder if he remembers his father. He spots my camera, and grins in glee at the anticipation of some fun.

Later, when the prayers are over, Sufia leaves the path and steps onto the grave, running her hand gingerly over the soil as she kneels down slowly.

Then suddenly, the whole world drops away. It is just her alone in the cemetary, mourning for her dead son. She cries out in Bangla, choking back heavy tears. I cannot understand what she says, but it seems to me she is angry, angry over the injustice of it all. Not once did she let the cloth drop from her face.

Sayara senses he should remain quiet, but his face betrays his impatience. He is after all, only four, and it has been a long afternoon in the sun.

- Jessica Lim 20.05.05


Happier things. I am a walking photographic cliche. Children children children. *tsk*

Tea Boy

Village Girl Begger Girl


Very very very glad to have come across eeshaun's link on Cowboy Caleb.. Been a fan since the days of Ang Tee Yew.. Shaun's humour has an edge to it. Way to go man... I love it when people are so talented.

Welcome to Gardensilly


You see ah, you'd think with photos and links and stuff I would talk less, but NOoooooo still rambling on like a monkey. Going for lunch. Ciao.