Photographer's Note

Our actions are said to determine who we are, but more correctly our actions define us in the eyes of other men. As some would say, our identity is really a vector of many properties but our simple-minded perception of others' identity often only considers one restricted element of that vector.

It can be said that I am who I am because of a convicted terrorist.

A young girl of 14 was once indoctrinated by the anti-British terrorists in Bengal before 1947 to nationalist agenda. She had trained to shoot a hand gun, then one day walked to a British police officer, who was presiding over a local town gathering, and shot him point blank. The police officer died; I am not sure if he had a child of his own--perhaps he did, in which case the child became an orphan at that moment.

The girl was caught immediately, but could not be hanged for her crime because in English law that was in effect at that time in India a minor could not be executed. To my knowledge, the draconian concept of "treating as an adult in the eye of the court" as is often the case in the US in such situations, does not exist in India (correct me if I am wrong). However, I can imagine the interrogation she must have endured to find the names of the other people behind this conspiracy.

She languished in jail for some years, but passed her matriculation examination while in jail. When she was released during an amnesty after WWII, she went to medical school and became a physician, a gynecologist. She had a practice in Chandernagore, a French settlement near Calcutta, where she lived for the rest of her life. She never married. She treated patients who could pay, but also three days a week her clinic treated free of cost people who could not pay. While going to the playground in the evening I remember having seen the long lines of women waiting to consult her on those free-clinic days. She was Dr. Suniti Choudhury (Ghosh).

She delivered me.

What does this story got to do with this photo? Her clinic used to be at the end of this street. Alas, the building does not exist any longer. But more to the point, the fear of our modern nights that haunts some of us who ascribe to nameless, faceless, individuals, the one element of a vector of many identities--woman, daughter, sister, friend, mother, physician, teacher, social worker, customer, grand daughter, atheist or catholic, communist or capitalist, pro-choice or pro-life--all is superseded by that one: a terrorist. A defining element that trumps all others in a hierarchy of values.

An association with one, be he a later-life award winning professor who was a member of your community organization board or be she a later-life physician who delivered you, is sure to damn you.

This photo is dedicated to Sohrab whose splendid work now in inspired me to take this photo.

pinakie_slg, thea0211, Isabelle, greg, avis2avis heeft deze opmerking als nuttig gemarkeerd

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Additional Photos by Animesh Ray (AnimeshRay) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 689 W: 44 N: 846] (9089)
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