Padlocked Prayers

This is Lucknow's Residency. The headquarters of the 1857 rebellion. Today it is huge garden dotted with roofless ruins and cemetaries, a museum and several rusty cannons. It is quiet in here, except for bird calls and the shuffling of feet of couples who come here to hold hands and kiss behind cannon-scarred walls. In the middle of this tableau of death and romance is a small 'wishing grave'. A dargah of some sainted personage. People come here to wish away their problems and to make requests for future betterment. They come here with padlocks and plastic bags. The bags they tie on the branches of the nearby trees. The padlocks they put on a wire next to the grave taking the keys with them. They return, at least some of them, when their prayers are answered and take with them the padlocks and the pieces of plastic. As if withdrawing their petitions from the office of a magistrate.


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