Look at the pain in this woman’s face. It is hard to imagine the tragedy and shame that created this grief.

Reuters photographer Mansi Thapliyal in New Delhi took this picture. And since I saw it a few days ago, I can’t get it – and all it signifies – out of my head.

The woman in the picture is Ram Bai, mother of Ram Singh. Ram Singh is the man who drove the bus on that night of madness in New Delhi in December, allegedly participating in the rape and murder of a 23 year-old woman who had just stepped out of a movie theater with her friend. He is the same one who was found hanging dead in his jail cell on March 11. That’s when this picture was taken.

It’s hard to know what her grief was in reaction to. The news of her son’s death? The accumulated shame and infamy that he brought on their slum of Ravidas, where she had to continue to live? Or, with his death, the finality for her of an unbelievably violent narrative that had at its center a person that she had brought into this world? We may never know. But her face somehow says it all.

These recent articles from Time and Reuters underscore the poverty that runs through this entire story.


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