24 November, 2020

The Walking Dead

What does dignity in death offer to a people for whom dignity in life is a myth?

Illustration by Saahil
The Walking Dead

In a black-comedic tale, a pesky reporter is interviewing a mosquito on the  season of fatal epidemics—and the mosquito upbraids the media for its false outrage. “So what if the poor are dying?” it asks. “These are the same poor you don’t want to see in your neighbourhoods, your cities. We are only doing our dharmic duty.” Conceding a debating point to an insect may seem an odd way to introspect, but if it allows us to extract some analytical value out of morbidity, why not? It takes an image sometimes—a stark, singular gestalt—to break through the cloud of meanings and contestations that fill our daily discourse. And this one was like a dark, remembered parable from some accursed land. For want of a hearse van, an adivasi man is carrying the corpse of his wife on his shoulders down a country road. Rigor mortis has rendered the body stiff, like a piece of lumber. His teenaged daughter walks alongside. Green farmlands, wet from the monsoons, stretch out on both sides, mockingly. The dateline carries its own freight of memories:...



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