Weeping Angels Ptg 3 E
Weeping Angels Ptg 1 unfinished E
Weeping Angels Ptg 2 unfinished

"The work concerns itself with mourning, loss, absence. As in life; in song and performance, so too in painting we look for a form (of/for mourning) A form which is a release and expression for the anguish of bereavement; which contains grief; finds succour; but also energises. It is more often a form which gives women participatory roles. But there are times when mourning has to be done in silence, solitude, in the incantations of memory. In resisting closure. In reigniting the flame of the cooking pot to reignite home, life. Immediate trauma finds historic/mythic prototypes. Dire times call for apocalyptic vocabularies."  Nilima Sheikh


Top: Weeping Angels, Nilima Sheikh, Photo: Randhir Singh.

Three images above: Details from Weeping Angels, courtesy of the artist.

Below: Details from Weeping Angels, courtesy of the artist.


Dire times call for apocalyptic vocabularies.

Text: Weeping Angel



Suddenly pierced today by the lance of my gaze

Moon and sun broke at once into fragments in the sky.


Now there will be no light nor darkness anywhere;


- Faiz Ahmed Faiz


In the distance,

there are terrible sorrows, like tides:

they draw back, swell, become full, subside.

They've turned the horizon to mist.

And behind that mist is the city of lights,

my city of many lights.


- Faiz Ahmed Faiz


A kingdom is flimsier

than a bubble.


It can be blown up

by a single breath.


It is the song that fashions

the destiny of nations.

A song can make or

mar nations.


- Tahir Ghani


Far away our dreams have nothing to do with what we do. The wind carries the night and goes on, and there is no destination.


- Mahmoud Darwish


No one will manage to hide the pain. It is visible, tangible, and audible, like the resounding break of the place. You are there with us watching pain plunder, all at once, everything we have and then pull itself out of us like a knife blade, seated across from us, rejoicing, on the other bank of a river that was once a barrier and now has become a petrified word.


- Mahmoud Darwish


Jo mauj hae dariya ki, is ranj se muzter hae,

Pyasa hae wo do din se, jo malik e kauser hae,


- A Couplet for Noha, which is based on the Persian word lament


My child, where can I put the ponos (pain) I feel for you?

If I toss it by the roadside, those who pass will take it.

If I throw it in a tree, the little birds will take it.

I will take it in my heart so that it will take root there

So that it will cause me ponos while I walk.

So that it will kill me as I stand.


- A mourning lament from rural Greece


Do you think our soil

is bereft of spark?

Look into your heart

with a keener eye.


Where from has passion

and fervour come?

Where from has this breath

of the spring’s breeze come?


It has come from the

very wind which

Bestows colour and scent

on our lofty mountains.




Your cry is a bell

waking up the caravans.

Why do you despair of

the people of this place?


Their breasts do not carry

dead hearts.

Their sparks are still

alive under the ice.


Wait till you see that

without the trumpet’s blast

A whole nation will rise to

life from their graves.


- Tahir Ghani


It always drips, this tearful eye

When it stops, blood doth rise.


- Mir Taqi Mir


Where do you go to seek for paths

Today, paths are entombed everywhere


- Ghulam Nabi Tak


Yet there are cases where repeated exposure to what shocks, saddens, appalls does not use up a full-hearted response. Habituation is not automatic, for images  obey different rules than real life. Representations of the Crucifixion do not become banal to believers...


... the ta'ziyah drama of the betrayal and murder of Imam Hussayn does not cease to bring an Iranian audience to tears no matter how many times they have seen the martyrdom enacted. On the contrary. They weep, in part, because they have seen it many times. People want to weep. Pathos, in the form of narrative, does not wear out.


- Susan Sontag


The landscape crossed out with a pen

reappears here


- Bei Dao


Let's compete with our tears,

let them pour into a lotus pond;

then we'll wait this year and see

whose flowers drown in salt water.


- Meng Chiao (751-814)


Who knows

what was the garden's grief

when it saw its flowers crushed to nothing?

    This was seen: when dawn came

    the breeze passed

    a restless wind through the cages


- Faiz Ahmed Faiz


Ever since the lights failed,

I have been searching to see how I could see.

Where have my eyes strayed in the dust?


You who know, give me proof.

Describe me to myself.


- Faiz Ahmed Faiz


My lips froze dry as whisperings reached me from outside the window.

The snowflakes were sailing into the shelter of the crevices.


- Rehman Rahi


May be that Vyeth River still flows ...

The darkness is so thick that nothing but darkness is seen


- Rehman Rahi


Now you've entered the sacred valley, take off your shoes and walk on broken glass.


- Fouad Mohammad Fouad


I sit on the balcony. Aleppo spread before me black and deserted. The clatter of crockery in the dark means life goes on. No sound save sporadic gunfire from somewhere, then a single shell preceded by a peculiar whistle. Someone is leaving this planet with a dry throat. Aleppo before me black and still. These huge shadows might be trees or childhood goblins or black vapours exhaled by women waiting for children who are already numbers in a news report.


- Fouad Mohammad Fouad


As the marthia (marsiya) traveled from Arabia to Persia and then on to India it also started acquiring regional flavor


... Though these early marthias showed an understandable stamp of the established Persian format, but soon local influences and ideas also got assimilated because though the subject matter was alien to Kashmir - the notion of lamenting a loss was not. Lyrical expression of grief has been a universal phenomenon pervading diverse cultures and times. In Kashmir too the Pandits had a tradition of wann or reinth to bemoan the loss of a near one, which was gradually adapted in the marthia.


- Sameer Hamdani


Shi’ism has a deep tradition of women whose public lives are committed to the doctrine of justice (‘adalah) and social service to build a better society. The powerful model of the women of the ahl-e-bait as embodiments of husaini ethics - imitable sainthood supports this tradition and in fact compels women’s active contribution to society. The socially sanctioned desire to emulate the women of the Prophet Muhammad’s family (especially Fatimah and Zainab) creates a dynamic space in the public sphere for women to cultivate idealized feminine selves and to participate in public sphere.  


- Karen Ruffle 


On the morning of July 15, 2004, a Manipuri woman, Laishram Gyaneshwari, got up early, took her bath, offered her prayers, touched her husband’s feet and then left home. She joined her compatriots near Kangla Fort – a well-known landmark of Imphal and headquarters of the Assam Rifles of the Indian Army. At a given signal, these women, many in their sixties and seventies, began pulling off their enaphi and phanke (garments). After stripping, they screamed, “Indian army rape us. Come take our flesh”, banged on the doors of the fort and stood naked even as crowds began to swell.


The immediate impetus for this protest was the brutal killing of 34-year-old Thangjam Manorama... The savage assault was viewed as a violation of the rights of all the women of Manipur. It was this extension of maternal grief to encompass the entire community that enabled the women to make a striking statement of solidarity  negotiating for spaces to accommodate their various shades of activism in a very traditional society.


-Freny Manecksha


Finally, in a world where even fundamental divisions seem obscure, and where Manicheism is not a comfortable option, expressions of mourning have become, if not a weapon of war, at least the only weapon in a struggle that is unarmed, or hopeless. Today, grief is often the grief of mothers, like that of Hecuba and Andromache in The Trojan women and since the list is too long to name them all, let me invoke only the  silent demonstrations  of the Argentinean mothers, the “mad women of May Square” whose grieving march for justice has been fol¬lowed by the entire world.


- Nicole Loraux


‘Mei cha dagh lalnawaan’ – I am cradling this pain – as a mother.


For women like Parveena (leading the APDP in Kashmir) who resist, negotiate, and protest, their activism marks a significant passage from victimhood to a sense of agency. It is interesting to note, however, that during one of our conversations about how women have had to take on new and challenging roles that defied their victimhood and foregrounded their agency, Parveena emphasized that she preferred to be known as a ‘victim’ as it held more meaning, more value for her in terms of being a mother of a disappeared son  Isn’t it true that only a victim can feel the pain and suffering of another, she once asked me.


- Sahba Husain



... we begin to think of pain as acknowledgement and recognition; denial of the other’s pain is not about failings of the intellect but the failings of the spirit. In the register of the imaginary, the pain of the other not only asks for a home in language, but also seeks a home in the body.  


- Veena Das


I'm reminded of the Hebraic legend of Abraham and the sparrow. Abraham was thrown into a fire as punishment for his devotion to God. A little sparrow kept flying in again and again carrying drops of water in its beak. When asked if she hoped to put out the flames with little drops of water, she replied, 'No, but it should be recorded that whatever I could do, I did'.


-Ayaz Rasool Nazki


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