Thursday, September 29, 2011

Mother, Friend, Sister of Teacher, Banganga Village, Rajasthan, India, 2009

She works to make tea for us, and lifts the garment for a split second.

We are looking at the front of her home, the kitchen area. She never ceases to work, moving from one task to another without pause. Four years she and her family have been in my life, and now she smiles at the thought of being photographed by me.

Her sister lives next door and is a teacher for Humana People to People India. It is through her sister that we meet. When I visit their homes they make two cups of tea for me, two meals as well. They watch me finish the first and then try to finish the second. They sit around me smiling at the amount of water going down my throat along with the food. They know that their food is a bit spicy for me, but that I love it nonetheless.

In their presence I feel at home. I can walk anywhere and photograph anyone without asking. I have been there as the sun began to rise and stayed until it set. They have been the first village in my trip and also my last. I have walked hand in hand with their girls, and sat alongside the men having conversations.

Her family owns a large portion of land, the same with her sister. They do quite well and are respected highly in their village. Rather than hiring others to help with the work, they do everything themselves. Everyone helps. The girls are always cleaning, making the home neat and comfortable. The men are constantly tending to the land, to the animals.

They recycle everything, cook extravagant meals for the oxen and always keep each other company. They are constantly together, and find happiness in this. The daughters of both families are like sisters as well, and I find it hard at times to differentiate between the families. In all of my experiences with these two families, I have always felt joy and kindness.

The girls attend school without question. Before the birth of the only boy, these two families had only daughters. Rather than seeing this as a calamity, these two families have made this small corner of the world a paradise for the girls. They have the support of their mothers and their fathers, and the love is deeply felt. 

When we leave after each visit, all of the girls and their mothers walk to the edge of their property, bidding us farewell. They continue to do so until they cannot see us, always with smiles on their faces. Perhaps one day I will return to this part of the world and stay a while longer. I can imagine waking up the next day and seeing them all around me, rather than worrying about heading back to town before the sun sets. 

I want to see them grow up and have children of their own. Then I can photograph all over again. 

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Halim Ina Photography