Sunday, July 15, 2007

Photo Essay – Getting Lost in the Christian Cemetery

Reflective getaway from the city’s chaos and confusion.

[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]

First I went to the Jewish graveyard, Delhi’s only Jewish graveyard. Then I walked out, strolled straight to the left, and turned left again. The air was humid and warm; it had rained in the morning. Flowers were being sold outside the brick-red wall of the city’s Christian cemetery. I ignored the florist and stepped inside where the traffic sound was subdued and Taj Man Singh Hotel was hidden behind the trees. I seemed to be the only one in the graveyard.

The slippery pathway was mossy. The overgrown grass whispered with underworld life. The monsoon sun shined sharply in honeyed hues. I stepped over several grave-stones to reach the one that was freshly made. All six candles on it had died except one. Scared of snakes, I jumped ahead, leaping from one grave to another.

There were broken vases and stale flowers on headstones. Quaint flower hedges skirted the boundaries of many graves. Some tombs, in the middle of flooded rain water, were like islands. A few baby graves had cherubic stone angels as guards. “Our Little Darling” Lucrezia Maria was born in 1949 and died two years later. Alison Jean lived for 18 days. Baby Anne Grace, daughter of Alice and Chacko, was fondly remembered by “Sorrowful Mummy Daddy.”

Not far from a Japanese grave was a headstone chiseled with “Mom We Love You.” Somebody’s “my one and only wife” rested nearby.

“Beloved son” Aman Anthony Choudhury’s mother grieved his death in these helpless words: Let death not part us. Thomas Ponter’s daughter, son, and son-in-law noted on his gravestone: A beautiful memory is all that is left. Molly George, wife of Jose, from Edathua, Kerala, lived for 56 years and is hopefully well remembered by her “sorrowing children” - Dolly, Jolly, Yury and Polly.

Suddenly I turned into a corner and discovered two kids hovering around two men one of whom was painting a grave. I had imagined I was alone but I was not. Disappointed, I immediately left.

Where Prithviraj Road Timing 7 AM to 7 PM

Delhi's Only Jewish Cemetry

Flowers for the Dead

Left for Dead

Candles in the Wind

Buried Baby

Happy in the Orchard

The Bird of Death

The Loved Ones

A Life Remembered

I'm Not Alone

Final Look - She Once Lived


Minx said...

my 'nana' who you guys would call 'nani' is burried in this cemetery. one of the most peaceful times of the day to visit is the afternoon. Many afternoons during my ' wonder years' i went there to sit by her grave for clarity. And one of the most beautiful days is Nov 2nd, All Soul's Day ... Maybe i will write about it for you someday...

prof said...

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Raluca said...

I liked very much the depiction of the luxuriant life juxtaposed to the photos and I remembered cemeteries settled in such beautiful landscapes that the death seemed impossible. One time I saw a deer resting in the bushes grown over some old tombs. This was in the countryside where my grandmother lived. The tombs belonged to Greek refugees who came to Romania in the thirties, due to the civil war. Their bones were left there, in a remote part of the cemetery, and no relatives ever came to depose a flower and a candle. Just the deers and the birds, the spring flowers and the joy of nature accompanied the deads. And remember the last line from Wuthering Heights...

constant traveller said...

hey do u know i wanna rest in teh same cemetry...but unfortunately there's no place. i probably will be buried in my mom's backyard!

some of my family members were lucky enough to be rested there...

Catherine said...

you could try visiting nicholson cemetery diagonally opposite the ISBT . Has a tiny entrance lost amongst all the buses that stand there. It has lovely old graves from the 1850s onwards. Mostly Britishers from the time of the first war of independence.