The Dignity of Sabu Jan Bibi


This portrait reflects another side of Sabu Jan Bibi. Her face was a fixed mask behind which her thoughts and experiences were rarely communicated. There were glimpses of sombreness – “There is no happiness in my life now . . . I’ve had enough of this life and want to leave it now . . . I’ve given up hope.” But much stronger was her quiet dignity, her elegance, as though she was at one with her life. The portrait was taken in a derelict building about 10 metres from where she spent most of her time asking for alms from pilgrims. The camera angle and slightly wide angle lens emphasise her elegance whilst the colours of walls and floor reflect the colours of her saree and flip flops mirroring her synergy with life itself.
What frequently goes unnoticed are Sabu Jan Bibi’s eyes. Look closely and you will see diamonds reflecting the colour of her saree. I often thought this but of course never told her.