Today I’m sharing another photo from my trip to India this past June. This picture was taken in Mumbai when we visited one of the slums…the largest slum in southeast Asia.
You may look at the picture and think it strange that the clothes of this young woman are so pretty and clean. Don’t be surprised – it’s about the only dignity that the women can hang on to in the slums, so they go to great lengths to be sure they and their children dress as nicely and in as clean of clothes as possible.
I don’t really recall what it was that prompted me to take this picture, and it really wasn’t until today when I was looking for a picture to use today that I really saw something in this picture. Notice the woman’s gaze. I don’t remember what she was looking at, but it appears that she’s looking at the lock on the door.
As I gazed at this picture, it became a parable of sorts for me. You see, I’ve become more and more interested in the plight of the Dalits (untouchables) in India since going there. Look closely at this picture. Look at the expression on her face, almost a grimace, as she appears to be looking at the lock.
Here’s what I saw today. I saw a Dalit woman, frustration and resignation both written on her face, as she contemplates how she has been locked down in life, restricted to a role based solely on her status at birth, stuck in a seemingly God-abandoned slum without hope of escape. And there we were, wealthy (by her standards and any objective standard you wish to use) Americans, taking pictures of what we were seeing.
I can’t help but wonder what was playing inside her head. Was she resentful of her plight? Of us and what we were doing? Was she wishing she could leave and go to America when we left? None of the above? I’ll never know.
Sometimes, though, pictures are worth a thousand words, even if we have to look at them more than once in order to see the story written therein.
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1989 an earthquake of 7.1 hit the San Francisco Bay area, killing 57 and injuring more than 3000. The quake damaged or destroyed more than 100,000 buildings, causing billions in damage. More lives would have beenlost if not for the World Series where 60,000 were gathered in Candlestick Park when the quake hit. Because they were there (and not on freeway structures/buildings that collapsed during the rush hour quake) and because the stadium had been built to withstand earthquakes, lives were spared. It was called a miracle by some. For all of us who lived in the Bay Area at the time, it is a day etched permanently in our memories!
TRIVIA FOR TODAY: traditionally, Jewish families don’t name their babies after living people because of a superstition that the “Angel of Death” may mistake their baby for the other person if the angel is sent to collect someone with that name.