A Photo essay on Sridala Swamis’ poem "Aftermath"

A bloody moon tonight--
stained, solitary
and outcast.

The railway tracks gleam and glide
on their way to nowhere
with a memory

of voices. Once, even thoughts
clattered in time
to the trains' rhythms.

But tonight the moon is red
and the debris
remembers its shape.

It is the railway tracks,
like slit throats,
that grin at the empty sky.

Sridala Swami

Residue: Reading Sridala Swami’s poem, which is a reaction to the Bombay train blasts of 2006 sent chills up my spine. I found it extremely visual and written with a lot pain, the kind that comes from witnessing tragedy at close quarters. The poem makes me contemplate while a deep sense of sadness quietly settles down in my heart for a sustained moment. It makes me recollect things I have heard and seen about the event.

The set of photographs have been put together with the intent of capturing the effect of ‘aftermath’ in public spaces, in the older part of Bangalore city. In an almost fictional narrative they illustrate the departure in character, when the usual rituals of commerce and social interaction are brought to a standstill because of an event. This aftermath is not only reflected through the atmosphere of the dry, discarded locales but also on the emotional landscape of people who react and behave differently during the aftermath. While the absence of the usual elements brings in this departure, the things that are left behind, the residue, become a signature of what once conspired.

Vivek Muthuramalingam