Friday, February 05, 2010

They live in small shacks and tents with little furniture or possessions of any sort. Temporary houses that strong gusts of wind or a heavy downpour could bring to total ruin. They build a small fire outside their huts with the narrow doors and sit around it, clapping and singing. The radio plays alongside. Does it help them forget the chill in the air? A young woman in a bright yellow saree skips rapidly, perhaps keeping count in her head, her little children looking on. A herd of pigs runs around nearby. The tents are pitched not too far from the graveyard, where simple platforms topped by plain crosses rise over the dead. How eerie do they look in the moonlight? A family or two stands in mourning, a priest in attendance. In the morning, ashes smoulder at the cremation ground right next to the cemetery, and a man keeps watch. A soul has just been freed of its earthly prison.

And of the people who live in extreme poverty not half a kilometre away? They're at play as usual; laughing, clapping and chattering at the tops of their voices. The scenes of death tell no exotic tale. Clear, high laughter rings down the road, untroubled by ambition or jealousy- all they have to worry about is their next meal.

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