Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Friend of Emmanuel, Habana, Cuba, July, 2011


During a visit to Hamely's home, this young girl's portrait is recognized by Emmanuel. He nods in a cool manner when he sees her picture and tells us that he knows her from school, she is his classmate. He also knows her home and offers to take us there before being asked.

We arrive at her home five years after this first portrait. A young woman opens the door with a cigarette between her fingers. She greets us with a bit of unease and then goes inside to tell her mother about our search for the young girl above. She returns and invites us in without a smile, seemingly against her instinct. 

Two more people stand inside a dimly lit room, an older woman on a bed still sleeping and a teenager standing at a distance in the corner in the room. The latter is the only person with a smile and the only person with a hint of curiosity. We learn that this curious girl is the girl above, and that her mother has since died. She now lives with her aunt and her cousin. 

She speaks nothing but communicates volumes with her reactions, her expressions. Like so many before her, she communicates to me a happiness in seeing us return after so many years. Unlike the cool mannerism of her cousin, she exudes kindness and love. Her aunt however cools things down with her attitude. She wonders about our intentions and the reason for representing young girls in my portfolio. I take the portfolio to show her and display the variety of people represented. There are older men, younger girls, affluent and less privileged subjects.

She seems a bit upset at being shown so and tells us without our asking that her niece declines another portrait this year, all to the dismay of the young girl. For the sake of asking, I look to the girl above in the corner in the room and ask her if she would like her portrait. She nods with exuberance and this tells me that perhaps in the future we will make her portrait, once she has escaped her present situation.

In the meantime, I remove her print from the book and hand it to her. She receives it in her most delicate hands and then smiles in response. Regardless of surroundings, we achieve our goal and inform this young girl that we will be waiting patiently for her portrait perhaps next year. 

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Halim Ina Photography