Sunday, May 30, 2010

Young Indian Girl, Rajasthan, India, November 1, 2009

The writing on this roll of film tells me that this is the eight exposure on the ninth roll of film in the afternoon on November 1, 2009.

Behind her are the mountains surrounding her home and in front of her is her village. She is the very first girl that comes into my view when we stop for this afternoon's work and she hangs around until we finish. We photograph her twice, at the beginning of the session and then toward the end.

She is a natural, needing little guidance from us. She looks straight into the direction of the sun and does so with little effort. There are perhaps forty people in front of her and this worries her very little, even though many are the elders of her village.

She stands for a moment in defiance of the norms and in support of her sisters. Even though our work has taken us to the school nearby three years in a row, this is our first visit to her village. We always seem to go to the neighboring one and this time around we decide to visit her village.

She is beaming with pride, with confidence and with happiness.

It is almost without exception when people look at her image that someone will think that she is a boy.

This makes me smile.

She represents youth, she represents hope, she represents our future, for all girls and boys.

At the end of our session, a few of the girls follow us back to the truck. Just as we are about to say our goodbyes, four or five of the girls grab my hands and pull me to visit their homes. They do a pretty good job of getting me halfway there actually and the older people seem to enjoy the scene.

We wish everyone a good day and begin to head back to the truck. At that moment, I grab one of the girls and make a run for the truck, soliciting laughter and giggles from all of the girls and their parents at the same time. They see this interaction and with kindness say their goodbyes until next year.

Their children's laughter remains in my memory until then.