heels on fire: 03/30/06

Thursday, March 30, 2006

below the line

This woman, who has been the subject of many of my photos and whose beauty has been the subject of many conversations, rolls beedis (a rolled leaf cigarette) to supplement the household income. Her husband, a mason has been out of work for nearly 5 months – he will not take up any other work, or share in the household chores – but she manages her family with the Rs.20 that she earns each day from rolling tobacco. The boy in the right hand corner of the frame is her son who cannot afford the 'luxury' of going to school.

In the rural areas around Budelkhhand, it is very uncommon to see a girl child "going to school". I was pleasantly surprised to see more than a bunch of them in this school. The headmaster told me that most of these children were sent to the school, because of the mid-day meal scheme. That apart, the look on this girl's face, the determination to pull herself out of this circle of poverty is what I set out to capture.

Portrait of a child (Kol Tribe, Chitrakoot district, India)

A little girl picks cow dung cakes from near the remains of a cow claimed by the harsh winter of 2003-04. What drew me to this picture was the setting – a little girl next to the skeletal remains of a cow. Any urban "rich" kid twice her age would have run a mile from this setting, but for her, toiling in this environments is just a part of her life. Later I realized that I had 4 layers of warm clothing while she only had a cotton rag wrapped around her to keep warm...

From the 'Below the Line' Photoessay by Desmond Roberts on Poverty and Disempowerment in the Bundelkhand Region (Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, India). Exhibited at the Poorest Areas Civil Society(PACS) Programme National Advocacy Seminar at the Marriott Hotel, New Delhi 29-30, January 2004.

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