Monday, January 08, 2007

Photo Essay – Carrying a Coffin in Old Delhi

The Sunday calm, in the streets of the walled town, gets shattered by the grief of a funeral procession
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]

"The eyes shed tears and the heart is grieved, but we will not say anything except which pleases our Lord."
Prophet Mohammad on the passing away of his son Ibrahim

Sunday morning in Old Delhi. Someone has died. A handsome young man with a day-old stubble is leading the funeral procession. His eyes are vacant. It could not have been a child’s death. The body, covered in a green cloth, is more substantial. Half a dozen sad shoulders are perspiring under the weight of the coffin as it bobs up and down on its last journey.

The procession halts at a traffic light as it turns red. Life swirls into action in the adjacent street that was empty a moment ago. There the signal has turned green. A tonga trots away. Fast-moving cars zoom past. A beggar, dozing on the cemented pavement, wraps the torn chaadar more tightly around him. A lady perched on the back of a motorbike glances at the coffin and instinctively touches her forehead in reverence.

When the light turns green the young man rushes ahead, reaches the center of the busy square, and waves in both directions – as if requesting the traffic to halt. The traffic stops. Then he turns back, gently gesturing the procession to follow.

As they walk past a bus stop, three mourners spill out of the convoy to catch their breath, while commuters waiting for their buses get fascinated by somebody else’s grief. A veiled woman in a bright orange sari prays silently. Somebody snaps pictures with a digital camera. But the procession is not distracted. It moves along with a heavy tread onto Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, towards a graveyard not in sight.

Two old men lag behind. “Everyone who has come to this world will depart some day,” says one. The other shakes his head. “That is true.”

Following the Procession - Somebody Has Died

Mayank Austen Soofi's Photo Library

Following the Procession - But The World Goes On

Mayank Austen Soofi's Photo Library

Following the Procession - Sad Morning Today

Mayank Austen Soofi's Photo Library

Following the Procession - On to the Burial Ground

Mayank Austen Soofi's Photo Library

Following the Procession - Feeling the Coffin's Weight

Mayank Austen Soofi's Photo Library

Following the Procession - Not Our Grief, But Theirs

Mayank Austen Soofi's Photo Library

Following the Procession - This Grief Shall Come to Us, Too

Mayank Austen Soofi's Photo Library


Riya said...

@ Delhi Walla
Your essays are really touchy, this one specially.

Mayank Austen Soofi said...

Thank-you. I do not like funerals. (Who does?) But they too are a part of our lives.

Pakistani Pictures said...

Its very sad to see funeral of someone, but its life & every one has to leave this world on day.

Sugarlips said...

Inna lilahe wainna Elaihe Rajion
(May God rest him in peace)

A very evocative post Mayank!
We all have to go sooner or later but it is hard to lose someone. Lives move on but there is always a empty spot left for the one who left us.

Stay Beautiful...!

carpe_diem said...

Good work, mate.
And I presume when someone wrote "Your essays are really touchy, this one specially.", he/she meant "Your essays are really TOUCHING, this one specially.".. there's a whale of a difference between the two.

Rajiv said...

heart touchingggggg

avantika17 said...

That's beautiful. I've lived in Delhi my whole life, but I've never seen this before. It's sad, but it's beautiful.