It was what he had expected.
Sahib scanned his eyes aroundthe empty village, photographing what was left. He flipped his notebook,jotting furiously: “New headline: Village devastated by earthquake”. In thecorner of his eye he glanced at a young girl wearing a Burqa running into theorphanage – smiling. He followed her. The time had finally come. Sahib walked up to thedoor. He was desperate to know what was on the other side.
A tremor of uneaseovercame him. “Fuck it, fuck it”. He turned the handle to the door, knowingfully – this is it – that he had been holding back the anticipation to report astory for the last few days, weeks and months. But the reality he was facedwith was something he was not prepared for.
His nose captured thepungent lingering stench. His ears caught the cackling of the barred floor witheach step. His eyes attuned to the harrowing black’s and grey’s of theorphanage. It was not what he hadexpected. He walked outside, hands onhis head, looking at the earthquake ruined village against the vast foliage ofgreens and the mountainous terrain of blues.
He knew this village was poor –after all he was a journalist – but knowing and seeing are different, knowingand understanding are different. In a state of shock his mind urged him to leave,but at the same time curiosity planted his footsteps to the ground. As he immersed himself intothe darkness of his thoughts, the flutter of laughter inside the home broke hissilence.
An overwhelming sensation of curiosity consumed him as he looked uponthe brightly lit faces of the rag covered children, burning to know – why arethey so happy after the earthquake? Walking back inside theorphanage, Sahib noticed a young boy filling his crumpled piece of paper withdrawings, colours and musings. He watched as the boy approached his friends –holding a plastic camera – and took a photo. It was at that moment that Sahibrealised he was staring in a mirror of his young journalist self. Looking intothe boy’s dark brown eyes he was transported back into himself as a child. Theboy had the same drive, determination and ambition, but sadly those dreams wereshattered by the earthquake. Sahib kneeled on the floor,gazing into the clarity of the boy’s eyes. Eyes of tragedy, loneliness andanguish. His mind was filled with the burning desire to know and understand theboy’s fascination in photography.
A plethora of questions poured out of hismouth – what keeps you happy? How are you coping after the earthquake? Why doyou take pictures of your friends and not your village? – like sand from hisgrasp. The boy’s answers to his questions, opened his mind. Happiness for theboy wasn’t new shoes, new toys or even a new camera. Happiness for him was thechance to have a family. A family he never had the chance to have. The boy’sphotography of his friends allowed him to focus on the light of life ratherthan the darkness of the village. His eyes brimmed withlight.
At the time, thesignificance of what he had discovered hadn’t dawned upon him. But aftertalking with the young boy, he pondered about his life – the many TV’s, themany books, the many beds – that left him with no feeling of joy as pure as thekids. He had come to realise that it was not what he had expected thatfascinated him, rather the surprising and unexpected. He gazed upon theindividual faces of the children, a gateway into endless stories waiting to beunlocked by a key. His camera. His eyes were the lens. Theworld was his image. The bubble that he used tolive in was burst by the knowledge that he could explore the human conditionthrough the stories of people.
He wantedto embrace this newfound appreciation, by embracing the children. He adjustedhis camera on the stand, running quickly to the group of children. As thecamera flashed, a permanent smile stuck to his face. Sahib showed the photo tothe kids, a portrait of distinct smiles, realising the best photos were takenwhen the people he captured had the same feeling as him.
When he captured aphoto, he captured an instant of time, emotion and memory. The look on the kidsface, captivated him. As the air stained withorange and pink, Sahib lay down on the grass looking into the individualblades.
He wondered what the next journey was going to be, the next storywaiting to be unlocked. With that he flipped his notebook ripping the previouspage – a mistake – for a new headline: “Villagers emotionally rebuild afterearthquake”. He eyed the sunset whispering to himself. “The time was yet to come”.