Sunday, February 9, 2014

You are on camera

"The cell phone is lifted up and poised unmistakably towards me to take my picture. I can see the small round camera lens rotating slightly as I move past the young photographer. I am walking at the outskirts of town just returning from my first trip to the market. She leans against the wood frame store front for airtime, and also balances on her small companion. She is likely less than 13 years old.

I don't know why this small movement catches my eye from the right side, while the speeding vehicles pass on my left and I try to walk carefully in this space where the tarmac meets the mud walk way. The children stand more than 20 feet away from where we are passing, and there are people flowing between us. One family looks like they are returning from church, and I see the father’s granite colored suit shows a sheen from the sun on the arm that takes the hand of his little girl, her bright purple skirt sways to the rhythm of her magenta patent leather shoes. Perhaps it is because this photo is only one of a very few familiar motions that surrounds me, for this reason I am drawn to my small reflection of home. Or that I am not expecting to be the one on camera, much less on one that is eyeing me from the back of an iphone.

I smile for the camera and give as much of a one handed wave as I am able when my arms on either side are being pinched at the elbow by the handles from my bags of produce. The child's head pops out from behind the cell and widely smiles back in surprise, then covers her mouth to giggle with her friend. But truly I don't mind. The opposite circumstance I know, when the stranger has a trophy camera snapping away at each of his or her perceived novelties. The tourist takes a picture of everyday life to bring as a souvenir of a strange and unfamiliar place. Instead, today, the local can capture this unusual scene at home to remember the day the pale speckled woman in the ugly hat walked by with all of her fruit and vegetables for cooking."