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The Indian Quarterly – A Literary & Cultural Magazine – Hearth of Darkness

Hearth of Darkness

By Ronny Sen 0

What does the end of time look like? Ronny Sen’s photographs take an unflinching look at apocalypse now

Jharia in present-day Jharkhand, was once a green forest. Coal was discovered here in the late 18th century and by the beginning of the 19th century most of India’s mineral resources were mined here. As the imperial government, mercenaries and princely families wrestled for control of distribution, Jharia withstood their greed. But it has eventually become successor to its own suffering.

A fire underground has been burning since, but its presence is now overground—inside homes, temples and schools, in churches and mosques. Places that were once thriving with life are now consumed by flames.

The end of time is manifested with shards and fragments; random, scattered elements of human existence, and a community without a future—plunderers of coal who move from site to site with blasting mines. This is survival in an apocalyptic landscape.

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10From End of Time by Ronny Sen, edited by Sanjeev Saith, the fourth title in the Nazar Photography Monographs. Sen’s documentation of the devastation caused by the Jharia coal fires and how greed can impact the environment and its inhabitants was awarded the Getty Instagram Grant in 2016. Available from the Nazar Foundation in limited-edition copies (Rs 1,500).

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