31 July, 2021

The Scream

In 2020, the year of the pandemic, lives took ­priority over livelihood. Both stand ­compromised in 2021, which promises to be more grim.

Smoke billows from a crematorium in Mumbai
Photographs by Dinesh Parab, Suresh Pandey and Ganesh Chandra
The Scream

This is a time to register our anger. A deep, gut-spilling, helpless anger. A wordless articulation of it would be best, but that would take us to the realm of art and performance. We are not Edvard Munch. We are committed to telling stories, of thick smoke spuming forth from ­crematorium chimneys and blackening our cityscapes, of wholesale sidewalk funeral pyres, of the heard and unheard screams emitting forth from uncountable Indians who see their love, their life, their universe ripped apart in a trice. Never again can we use ‘gasping for oxygen’ as a metaphor. Never can we now say that tragic hysteria, or fear and trembling, belongs to others. That old Indian parable about people gathering around an accident site, whispering but not helping—because ‘these things always happen to others’ and we only need to play it in our minds as an inner drama—that parable has died this time. As an editorial here suggested last week, this is now everyone’s holocaust.

The sight of a patient dying outside hospitals or in the wards,...

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