Memoirs of Midnight
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An exhibition of photographs turns attention to the victims of conflict in Northeast India
One of the images is of a woman, the scars of deep, embedded nail marks on her chest narrating a story of pain and humiliation. A mother of three, she was allegedly raped by some army men during Operation All Clear. During quarrels, her husband sometimes taunts her about this. In another frame, Jayanti Musharay holds her six-year-old son close. She has no money to bring him up and this is the last time he will see his mother, before she sends him off to an orphanage. Yet another photograph is of a blind old woman looking for her family, shot dead years back.
Vignettes of Resilience: Armed Conflict and Women in North-East India is a showcase of 49 photographs by Kausiki Sarma. Between the frames are stories of women who have been affected by armed
violence in Nagaland, Manipur and Assam. "The trauma and resilience of these women over the decades of conflict is the band which connects these photographs," says Sarma.
A post-graduate in operations research, Sarma gave up her job in Delhi and headed back home to
Assam to take a candid look at the "conflict of pain". Decades of long conflict have seen women lose sons, brothers, fathers and husbands and live in an atmosphere of fear. The exhibition reveals their powerful testimonies, across space and time.
The compilation of photographs is the result of two projects in Northeast India, in which Sarma was engaged as a photographer. The first was a year-long study on the "Impact of Armed Conflict on Women in Assam and Nagaland", conducted by the Centre for Northeast Studies and Policy Research. The photographs were shot across Kokrajhar, Dhemaji and Sibsagar in Assam, and Peren, Kohima and Tuensang in Nagaland during the making of a documentary, A Measure of Impunity, in which Sarma worked as an assistant director.
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