Photographer's Note

She is one of hundreds of laborers, mostly bonded laborers who work under compulsion forced by money lenders to whom they or their close relatives are indebted, in one of innumerable brick kilns scattered across the Indian subcontinent. The work is back-breaking, dusty, unbearably hot under the relentless tropical sun. In April temperature often soars in West Bengal to 100 degrees F with nearly 95% relative humidity, in summer it is often as high as 105-110F, with 100% humidity. Work begins before sunrise, and does not end until five or six in the evening. For women that is only the beginning of another chore...household work.

This woman in her elegant dress appeared to be the hardest worker in this kiln. During the 2 hours or so I was there, she never paused. Unlike curious gazes from others, she never even once looked up and made eye contact.

The elegant white headdress below the head pad (meant as a cusion for carrying heavy head-weights) signifies that she is probably a newly wed. Did she come to this kiln as a result of her marriage obligation? Or did she marry another person in the same kiln while she has been here? Why is she wearing her elegant bridal dress while doing this arduous labor? Is this all she possesses? Or is this her choice dictated by the custom for a newly wed to dress rise above her conditions for a few days of nauptial glory?

This is my dedication to Labor Day.

[Yes, I know I am going to get a lot of rebuke from my friends for succumbing to the siren song of raunchy color PP. My defense...a guy has to experimenet sometime. And then, how can I deprive this elegant and proud queen of the kiln of her colors?]

Photo Information
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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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