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GOD LIKES GIRLS, AND TOMORROW, AND THE EARTH

 

I went to a place where a war was fought. That’s almost all the information I had on it. That’s almost all that’s said of it, repeated over and over again, as if there are no other stories there. I asked my friend if I might die (I’ve toyed with the idea of death as one does, hoping for a catastrophe to strike, so I can be gone, no fuss). 

 

Kargil’s Suru Valley felt a bit like paradise to me on first encounter. Wild flowers grow with abandon, streams gurgle through lush green fields, a river comes down straight from a glacier, its water clean and sweet, and the stars hang so low and bright in the night. 

 

Little girls wanted to befriend me, curious about the outsider, who wasn’t a Shia muslim and who didn’t cover her head. 

 

I lived there for a little over three months, of which two months marked Muharram, an important religious event for the Shia branch of Islam. This was my closest encounter with the annual event, where the community gets together and grieves the loss of a religious leader who died in a battle fought about a thousand years ago. I was intrigued by the idea of community grieving, over a fairly long period. A lot of the photographs were taken in the village Imambara (religious congregation hall) where for about a month, gatherings were held every night and the girls sat separately from the adults. The pinjra (bird cage) where they sat was a wonderful hideout, away from adult supervision, and their scheduled grieving. There were processions and prayers in the day.

 

The series is a celebration of girlhood and the earth, in this present moment, driven by a sense of nostalgia for my own childhood. 

The title is taken from an EE Cummings poem ‘Dive for Dreams’. 

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