Homeless Soles

July 16, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Homeless Soles

©Rajiv Chopra. Homeless Soles

My Past

I started my photographic life on the street. That was many years ago. During my past days, I used to revel in shooting poor people on the road. I always felt that this made me a more authentic photographer.

My hair has grayed since then, and I have seen too much suffering on the streets. I have seen an eight or nine-year-old girl — a pretty girl — with her left eye gouged out. I could see right through to her skull. I have seen men, with hands and feet chopped off, wheeled onto the streets to beg.

Their owners perform these unspeakable acts of violence, so they move us to pity and give them more money.

I have seen people holding distended organs out in front of them for us to see. Then, some people live, eat, sleep on the street and perform their daily ablutions for the world to see.

This is how life works on the street in India.


About 50,000 nameless people die on the streets of Delhi every year. I don’t expect anyone to lose their sleep over the plight of the homeless and the nameless. They exist.

Home is where the heart lies. This is the proverb that many of us have grown up with.

Home is also where you have no choice but to live — and die.

The drama of life and death plays out on the streets, and we are indifferent to the action, mildly affected, or emotionally disturbed by it.

The Image

It was a frigid winter day when I took the image in this post. The man whose soles, you see in the image, is a cart-puller. He sleeps on the cart whenever he gets the chance. People often wake him up at odd hours of the night to give him work. He eats when he can, and bathes on the street.

Possibly, he does not own a pair of shoes. The soles of his feet are calloused and scratched.

Maybe he earns enough money to send to his family wherever they are. Probably when the government makes grand announcements about feeding the poor, the benefits don’t reach him because he has no identity papers.

The police and the people who hire him, possibly abuse and mistreat him.

No one mourns his death. There are many waiting to take his place.

Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust.

From an anonymous birth to an unknown life, to an anonymous death, he goes.

Death finds him a cart to dispose of his mortal remains somewhere.


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