words by Bradley Peters | photos by Ashley Peters
Another train. My ears vibrate with the motion and the resistance of the wind. We’re blowing through India with a relentless fervour, jumping between each key locale like darts thrown at a map, shrugging our cold shoulders to the raw culture that is beating on the double pained glass of each train or taxi or air conditioned coffee shop.
I watch a dog scamper beneath the weight of a cab in the chaos of the street, rolling and clamouring and fighting to escape before being carelessly crushed and tossed in the fury. The carcass of a cow slowly decays on a city road among the piles of dung and trash, sending waves of nausea with the smell of piss in the heat. Men desperately clambering over one another to give you anything and everything for rupee, and a child holding a newborn covered in rags and soot, begging, pleading.
Two men carry a body wrapped in white cloth to burn by the river Ganges. Struggling beneath the dead weight, they toss him limp on the lighted stack and recoiled from the smoke and heat as the white linen is devoured in patches of hungry red ember, revealing the man, naked, tired, bald and burning, the flame licking and gnawing his submissive flesh like a demon.
I saw this and more in the span of an hour of a day, and I’ll see this and more on sleepless nights in the moons shadows and my rooms shallows dim and grey.
I’m painting an image of India with black ink. This image is realistic and true, but the reason it is so vibrant, so shocking, so pitch and so stark is because the canvas on which I paint is so great and so pure and so white and so raw.