Little Friends

Walking through the junk yard back from the Hero servicing center toward Delhi Cantt Railway Station (2 January), we followed the direction of a man’s pointing finger by walking into an area housing a big cluster of houses. It was immediately obvious to our eyes that the people were in an abject condition.

But just a few steps into the neighborhood, I saw a sweet view–a boy was ill and he was lying in a cloth bed on the damp (all about it was wet) ground between two rag houses–his blanketed body in the sun and his head in the shade of a house, and he was surrounded by five friends. They boys were all dirty and their noses were, to be euphemistic, runny and one of the boys had the milkish paste from his nose smudged off toward his one cheek. They did not see the dirt surrounding them. What they did was to be with the ill friend, surrounding him from all directions. That was true friendship I have never seen after I had lost a childhood friend who died in his childhood (he vomited blood and we did not know what he was suffering from).

While I wanted to take a snapshot of those children in the way how they were, we walked on past them–I remained diffident and feared if I hurt their emotion, at least of anybody in the neighborhood (be it their parents), if they felt being treated as an object or subject. Then a man on a broken stool, whom we had walked past, called on to me requesting me to take a snapshot of the ill boy. I was glad and immediately I returned to the position I saw the friendship from and pointed the camera to them. Two boys immediately posed with their ill friend, hugging each other. That was cute. Two children, embarrassed, got to their feet and became an onlooker, and a boy nearest to the camera remained where he was, without reacting to the situation much visibly–an odd combination of defiance and vulnerability. This was the shot:

That is colorful. That is the color of their life. And look at the hearty smile of the middle boy, and that of the ill one. That is of pure joy, yet unsoiled by the complexities of life. And the boy on the left is cute, all his dirtiness adding to it.

While color shows the color of their life, I want to watch their actions, their friendship, extracted from the colors which can be regarded as extraneous in one way. I want to see them in grayscale, like this:

There is the simple beauty of the three boys’ friendship in the context provided by the larger scope within the frames. Yet, a tighter framing may be more eloquent:

The hands of the invisible boy takes care of the excluded part of the context. And this one is just three of them:

If they see these pictures when they are old, I think they would miss these innocent days. I don’t know how ever they would see these pictures. Some old pictures can mend broken friendships and families. I am not ambitious, and I don’t have utilitarian aims in photographing people, but I am deeply touched by these children and their love for each other. Such is very rarely seen, if it happens at all among us who live under roofs inside our own houses.

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