The only difference is a heart that doesn’t beat

This picture, of  inmates at a home for the aged in Bangalore sharing their room with a recently deceased resident, shot by Selvaprakash L. on 13 May 2007, has won the India Press Photo award of the Ramnath Goenka Foundation. Selvaprakash, 30, formerly of the Tamil dailies Dinamalar and Dinakaran, is now with DNA.

Photograph: courtesy SELVAPRAKASH L.

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28 Responses to “The only difference is a heart that doesn’t beat”

  1. Narayana Says:

    ಸಬ್ ಕೋ ಸನ್ಮತಿ ದೇ ಭಗ್ವಾನ್!!

  2. Not A Witty Nick Says:

    Soul stirring photo!

  3. T Azeez Luthfullah Says:

    Inna lillahi vainna ilaihi rajeevoon! It means: To God we belong; and to God we all will return!

  4. Faldo Says:

    The picture leaves you speechless. However, you could have been careful with your choice of describing this. When you say “sharing their room with a recently deceased resident, “shot” by Selvaprakash L. on 13 May 2007″, it can have a different connotation.

  5. krishna Says:

    very troubling , looking at the ever increasing wealth gap I shudder to think what poor people have to go through, we need no hell.

  6. Simple Says:

    Soul stirring? how can it stir your soul? is it great music? or some mood elevating landscape? or some kind of a soothing experience?

    hello, this picture can numb your mind, with its stark reality. it is depressing.

    how can your soul be stirred out of somebody else’s misery?

  7. Palahalli Says:

    How does this happen? If this picture is a natural frame, then the lady nearest is adjusting her quilt looking away from the wrapped body and the man(?) on the other side is sleeping…trying to sleep perhaps..facing the body. I can see no revulsion in them at their circumstance..the picture tells me a “this is normal” story or was this stage managed?

    The apathy is unbearable. If this is a true happening…I cannot imagine the kind of suffering that these two “witnesses” might have gone through in their lives…for them to bear this. And yet, I have had personal experience at the way the dead are treated in some of our hospitals…some “homes” would be callous too. Or as Selvaprakash says on his site, is it a lack of resources?

  8. T Azeez Luthfullah Says:

    What does it convey?
    ONE : Death is imminent. It may come at any time, even in sleep. Nobody can conquer death. No force on earth could delay it. Nobody can escape from it.
    TWO : It also blatantly exposes the darker side of the society. Who is that old lady? Definitely she is not without sons, daughters, son-in-laws and daughter-in-laws. But, look how her end came? At Old Age Home! This trend of sending the parents to Old Aged Homes is alarming. The mushrooming of such homes and their increasing numbers is distressing. This trend has shattered the long cherished ethos of the society.
    THREE : The deceased should have passed away in sleep. As the stiffened legs and folded hands of her indicates the state at which all came to an end.
    FOUR : The heartrending part of this end is that it was not noticed by anybody. The warden or supervisor of the Home and other inmates of the home might have thought she is still asleep. The stiffened legs indicate that nobody noticed the end when it came.
    FIVE : If somebody was there at the moment of death, he or she would have straightened the hands, legs and closed the eye-lids. It is possible to straighten them, immediately after the death. But once the dead body gets stiffened it is impossible to straighten them.
    SIX : The offsprings of the deceased should have declined to take the body and perform the last rites. They should have asked the Old Aged Home to take care of it. Or they might have given the wrong address and contact numbers. Or they might have been in some far away land, unable to return. Hence the caretakers of the Old Aged Home themselves should have wrapped the dead body.
    SEVEN : After wrapping up, they might be waiting for the mortuary van or vehicle to carry it to the cemetry.
    EIGHT : The whole Old Aged Home would have been engulfed with pity, grief and sorrow. Look at the lady in the adjucent bird. She has faced death! Could she sleep?
    NINE : Each and every inmate of the home might have recalled each and every actions, words of the deceased.
    TEN : The walls are unclean; The floor is unwashed; The beds are without bedspreads. It must be an Old Aged Home catering to the needs of the middle class people.
    ELEVEN : It is upto your imagination.
    Note : An interesting point to be noted is that the trend of sending parents to the Old Aged Home is not found in Muslim societies. When we, at Samarasam Tamil Fortnightly visited such an Home and conversed with the activist involved, he shared his pleasant surprise. “There are so many old Age Homes in the city; but we could not find a single Muslim in any of the homes”
    This is not surprising. Islam stresses every Muslim male and female to take care of their parents.
    Quran says :

    Be good to your parents: and should both or any one of them attain old age with you, do not say to them even “fie” neither chide them, but speak to them with respect, and be humble and tender to them and say, “Lord, show mercy to them as they nurtured me when I was small.” Your Lord is best aware of what is in your hearts, If you are righteous, He will indeed forgive those who relent and revert (to serving Allah)

    (Holy Quran 17 : 23-24)

  9. Andy Says:

    The photograph moved me..had a lump in my throat.

  10. Coffee addict Says:

    My eyes are wet.

  11. prajwal Says:

    My my…the age of reason and rationality.

    Use science to explain the different elements present in the picture!

    @azeez

    Pray tell the need to scientifically/ logically ratify the picture! The fact that the corpse was wrapped up but was left in the living premises is itself wrong, but you want to justify this condition? Man, rational thought to explain certain things is OK. but a line has to be drawn somewhere and u definitely crossed in rationalising this pic!

    Secondly pray tell why bring RELIGION into this? Do u mean to tell me other religions teach kids to send their parents away? I m not muslim and i sure as hell havent been taught that i shud send my parents away to an old age home, on the contraty,even i have been taught to respect and to care for my elders. It s so to say a moral/humane responsibility and a sense of compassion, a natural affection and a sense of bonding to ones family that makes children to care for parents and elders! Religion has nothing to do with it, so do not bring in Religion into something as basically humane as caring for one’s own family! RELIGION sure as hell is no answer to every part of life, it is just 1 aspect of life!

  12. Concerned Says:

    Well, the picture is very moving but there are worse things happening in India. People take their old parents and disabled children to festivals like Kumbhamela and just abandon them to die in misery. What can be worse than dieing on roadside knowing that the people you love have abandoned them. Why dont the organizations like Arya Samaj, Bajrang Dal, RSS and VHP address these issues rather than organizing chain bombings all over India.

  13. Which main? What cross? Says:

    Damn!

  14. taklu Says:

    @T Azeez Luthfullah: Please dont get religion into this.
    It is not as if your religion is the BE ALL, END ALL of things.

    And
    @ Concerned:
    Before pointing fingers to the RSS, VHP, Arya Samaj, please check the facts and you will know that besides doing small tasks like Bombing people like you out, they are majorly into Educating people (just like the Christian schools), feeding people, providing health care and caring for the aged.

    Taklu.

  15. Manjeri Radhakrishnan Says:

    besides doing small tasks like Bombing people like you out!!!!!!!!

    I guess taklu lost his hair assembling bombs .. :))

  16. Mysore Peshva Says:

    My big congratulations to Selvaprakash L.

  17. Anonymous Guy Says:

    Taklu,

    Same to you: Please dont get religion into this.

  18. Vivek Says:

    Azeez,

    You are so funny I am rolling on the ground in laughter man :-))) Seriously you should consider being a stand-up comedian, your kitchen will never run short of vegetables.

  19. Palahalli Says:

    “Concerned” asks, “Why dont the organizations like Arya Samaj, Bajrang Dal, RSS and VHP address these issues rather than organizing chain bombings all over India.”

    - Liberalism demands diversity. To base this diversity on a precondition, however meaningful, is to negate the very notion of liberalism. For the Liberal, there cannot be any pre-condition. Period. To suggest one, let alone impose it, is a sure sign of Fascism. Once liberalism sets up base, even in a homogenous society, it naturally “invites” diversity. If it cannot be had within, then it must be brought from without.

    The Liberal impulse is so consuming to its believer, that a society wanting to protect itself from a real threat to its existence, is perceived as a society wanting to secede from …and/or wanting to repulse…the “other”. Therefore the noble sentiment of self preservation is turned on its head and is branded “selfish” and “exclusive”.

    Given the above framework, it’s natural that a “majority” is the Liberal laboratory since logically; they cannot work their scheme on a “minority”. The minority is already a “diverse” bit. It follows that for liberalism to succeed, it must weaken the majority by various and any means. Only then will the “majority” even awake to the need of “accepting” the minority *without* any pre-condition. The bedrock of liberalism.

    When Shri. “Concerned” asks his question; it is not that he does not realize the folly of what he’s asking. It’s basic untruth. It’s that he fully realizes it and asks anyway. Through that question he hopes to convey an equivocating message. “The majority is no better, in fact, they need to emulate the minority in doing good and caring deeds.” The need to guilt trip the majority on any and every “wire” is essential for the Liberal to maintain his hold and further his goal of the ultimate destruction of the target majority.

    Members of the majority, who want to preserve their culture against hoards, must not fall for the Liberal bait.

    There is an essential unity in Hindu diversity. We have achieved this pre-condition. Islam and to a much lesser extent, Christianity, refuse the terms of this pre-condition.

  20. Sandesh Says:

    @manjeri
    nimma joke-ge neeve nagbeku

  21. taklu Says:

    @Manjeri Radhakrishnan
    Does it matter if I have lost hair? .. :))

  22. Andy Says:

    @ Simple

    Have a heart for NAWN.. he may have used the word soul stirring to convey that the pic moved his soul..

  23. lakshmi Says:

    sad . it kinda numbs you

  24. Dr. Sree Reddy Says:

    Abadoning old people and children with different abilities in Kumbhamelas or Jatres is a big social problem in some parts. It is due to lack of social/health security for this section of people. In India we have very few old age homes and they are pretty expensive and cater to the moneyed classes. I have hardly seen old age homes for low or middle income groups. In the rural areas, there is a need to set up such faicilities, but hardly these issues ever been addressed by the government or policy makers.

  25. Vinay Says:

    There are some rascals who have to stoke the flames of religion at every possible moment. They cannot look at an issue without distorting it through their religious prism. A topic completely unrelated to any religious issue has been converted to a religious flame war.

    The one who started this here, T Azeez Luthfullah is the prime culprit, for insinuating that the problems of uncared people in old age homes is an outcome of the religion followed.

  26. Naxalite Says:

    Religion is the root cause for all evils. Does it matter who follows what. The class difference created by religion is the evil and has to be abolished. In this respect Islam and Christianity are one step ahead of us. Hinduism,unless it recognitions equality, is doomed. The only way to end jamindari is to end the jamindars. Jamindars in the contemporary context are corrupt govt officers, heads of matas, land owners and those who advocate racism

  27. TS Satyan Says:

    Congratulations Selvaprakash. You really desrved the award.

  28. T Azeez Luthfullah Says:

    The crisis of Old Age Homes is true, and horrible. We cannot deny it. We have to analyse the causes and take remedial measures. For that we have to be open minded.
    I came across interesting, inspiring thoughts shared by a fifty year old blogger recently. Her approach to this problem is positive.
    She says :
    Lonely hearts
    Solitude is a welcome change from hectic activity and togetherness and is required for rejuvenation. But loneliness is a very sad feeling particularly when one is old. And loneliness in old age seems tougher on married people than those who have accepted their single status and are mentally prepared to face their life alone. At least in our society, most married people do not seem to have thought of being alone in old age. At best , they plan for financial security through investments and insurance but do not seem much prepared emotionally to go through the dusk of their life all alone. In spite of the near disappearance of the joint family system since a couple of generations ago, there is still some sort of emotional dependence on children – particularly the sons. With the increase in the number of younger people seeking employment abroad , this generation of urban middle class senior citizens has less of financial problem to think about but face severe emotional issues associated with loneliness in old age.

    Today we live longer though not always in good health. Most of us do not develop interests beyond our work and our family. So when children have grown up and flown away and retirement coincides, time hangs heavily. Recreational opportunities are also limited with traffic and other infrastructural issues especially in big cities. Some happily accept the job of baby sitting their grand children. Others increase the TRP ratings of B and C grade TV shows. Thank god for cricket and politics – these keeps most old men sane.

    To read the full story : http://agelessbonding.blogspot.com/2008/10/lonely-hearts.html
    Another one : http://agelessbonding.blogspot.com/2005/07/life-of-ones-own.html

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