August 3, 2012

The Possible Story Behind a Picture

Dear Readers,
                Every photograph has a story to tell. As we come across any photograph, our minds involuntarily interpret a possible story behind it in a matter of seconds. This particular photograph – I don’t think if anyone could possibly reach a pleasant conclusion. The closest I ever got to reach a somewhat happy conclusion for this image was by introducing the concept of HOPE…
In this context, HOPE is nothing but a prayer to meet our desire.
Here is an account of what may have gone through the minds of THREE people associated with this photograph just before and after it was clicked.
Yes, the location is nowhere but the place that seems devastated with all the smoke and chaos as shown in the picture. [Of course, I’ve made some assumptions and also have named some characters...]
Each sentence may account to each thought that might have occurred in their minds.
The Kid in The Picture(assuming it is a boy - Fahad): oh, another white man with an um... what do you call it?? Yeah CAMERA! OOPS, I forgot to smile, again! It is a mysterious object. Aishumma told me that it draws the portrait of whatever its owner points it to within a second…
I was really scared the first time I saw it with a white person, especially when he pointed it at my wounded cousin. I thought that it was some kind of gun and that he was going to kill him with it but it turns out that white people with camera smiles and are friendly unlike those with uniforms and guns.
 I wonder where Baba is taking me. I think he is taking me towards my mother but I dare not to ask him, he gets angry whenever I talk about mother. All he ever told me about her was that she is somewhere far. Baba told me that there is a school where we are going. I’ve always heard of it as a place where kids like me spend time and learn together.
I was so excited to tell Mariam and Aisumma about school but baba was impatient and told that we had to leave now urgently and that we can’t meet Aisumma and her daughter. I pleaded but he was so stubborn and wouldn’t allow me to even go see them but he did appease me that he would tell it to them once he comes back after a few days to get our stuffs. I am confused! Are we leaving this place for good? I feel baba is hiding something from me. Is he really true about the school or is he just lying to me? I hope he won’t leave me like Mariam’s baba left her and her mother. Aishumma is still waiting for his return from the militant group.
Hope there are kids like Mariam out there in the school. She was the only other kid of my age over here. Mariam and Aishumma should have come with us. If only he allowed me to go tell them... when baba comes back to take our stuffs I will tell him to bring Mariam and Aishumma with him. Hope he will at least grant this wish of mine. I really wish my mother is there where we are going or at least some lady like Aishumma who can listen to me patiently without getting annoyed.
The Man in the Picture: oof! Another photographer again to capture my situation? I think I know this man, all these whites look the same to me! Don’t these men have a heart? They have managed to capture almost every dark moment of my life ever since the war started.
We expected a lot of help and support from other countries once they’ve seen our situation through these photographs but now all hope is gone. It seem these journalists are the only people who is benefitted out it or are these photographs being shown only to those people and leaders who actually enjoy seeing us in the hellish situation that they’ve got us into? I wonder if Fahad smiled.  I simply don’t have the courage to ask him. I don’t think he did. He is really confused as he has not got a clear idea about where I am taking him. I too am uncertain about it. This place has become too dangerous and all I want is to get away from here somehow. ALLAH, please help me to get swiftly through the various check posts installed by terrorists as well as the American army. I know I’ve taken the risk of Fahad being snatched away by militants but I have no choice. You are my only hope.
ALLAH, forgive me for the sin I’ve done. I’ve left being my friend Karim’s family, little Mariam and his wife Aisha. I know that I am their only support ever since Karim left after joining the militant group. I just cannot afford to take them with me. I barely have any idea how myself and Fahad will survive. ALLAH, please protect them, don’t make them suffer but you may kill them off and free them from this place.
Poor Mariam, poor me, poor us, poor country… what have we done to get such a fate.
After I’ve crossed all the check points I’ll have to find somebody who can shelter me and Fahad, but I don’t think if anyone would help. Mutual trust has vanished from the minds of people. They now live in fear and suspect everyone as a terrorist. I’ll have to spot a local school in that case. Most schools are now refugee camps. After all, ‘school’ is what I promised Fahad. Poor child, reality is going to be so much different from what he might have dreamt about school. I wish I could fulfil at least one promise that I gave him. He is beginning to lose his trust towards me. I see suspicion in his eyes as I speak to him, especially when I persuaded him to leave without telling Aisha and Mariam by telling about ‘school’ and my return. Curse me! I didn’t even let him see them for one last time. I couldn’t.
Hmm, all these bleak promises are nothing sinister compared to what I’ve convinced him about his mother. ALLAH, the boy still thinks that his mother is somewhere far away. He probably might be thinking that we are going to meet her. How could I tell him that his mother died of disease? That the only hospital here did not have the medicine to cure her?
My wife... dear I miss you and Fahad needs you more than ever. I want to be soft on him but I simply can’t. I can’t look him in the eye and my guilt turns to anger when he talks to me about you or anything. I wish there will be a kind lady like you or Aisha to take care of him in the refugee camp.  
Wait! Should I tell him the truth now? What if something happens to me on the way? In case I get killed or snatched away by militants, I wouldn’t want him to wander in search of his dead mother. ALLAH, please give me the strength to carry on. If something happens to me please take care of my son. My only wish is that he gets good education in a proper school and not one of those schools where militants brainwash children into jihad….
The Photographer: (after he clicks and checks the preview) ok let’s see what I’ve got here, hmm a man and probably his child fleeing. Or has that man kidnapped him? Any sort of crap can happen here and there is nobody to take action. It can’t be a kidnap; the kid is resting on his head and is pretty confortable. Yet he seems confused. Should I report to the American check post? If it’s a kidnap the man will be busted but if it is really his father then he might not have the necessary documents to prove it. He will be detained for days until a DNA test confirms his fatherhood and eventually his attempt to flee this place will be in vain and I don’t want to be the reason for that. Besides the militants might think he is supporting the military. If he is not the father but a relative of that boy then the DNA test will send him to prison coz nobody’s gonna believe his claims.
de that man just smile for this photograph. He perhaps thought I knew him or it might be a smile of helplessness or it might reflect the last drops of hope within him.
JESUS CHRIST! That boy is about my son’s age. I can’t take this anymore. War photography is one of the worst jobs. I haven’t capture a happy human being ever since I came he, be it the locals or the American soldiers. I thought I could show to the world the true face of the war through my photograph and that way I could be of some help to these people but it seems nobody cares and everything is in deep shit. It seems that the US government is still successful in maintaining the secrecy of the war and as for other developed nations who oppose this war – they may not be directly financing this war but they are creating a situation that pays to keep it going. The people are being ignored and photographers like me are the only ones who understand their true feelings.
The magazines are not going to be happy with this particular picture, they want more sad and gruesome picks to attach on to their articles along with ads from luxury brands so as to lure people into donating money most of which will be looted by this country’s corrupt government who might even fund the militants.
Once I upload it on to the air, it aint gonna make any impact either. Besides the man in the picture seems to smile – which is more than enough for some people to think that American invasion on this land has made the locals happy from the strict rule of Taliban. Like most other photographs this one too will end up buried among the millions of photographs in Picasa, photo bucket etc. some people might also put it up for Photoshop or Blogging contests so as to get the so called ‘COLLECTIVE THOUGHTS’.
The truth is – the numerous thoughts of the numerous people who have seen this photograph(including myself) count to nothing but a single action inspired and motivated by this image is what counts and what could probably change the true situation that this image depict. JESUS, help these people. I’ll never return once my contract is over.
God, I keep getting this feeling that the boy is being kidnapped. Just look at that boy’s face in the preview. There isn’t any lady with that man. Should I report to the check post or should I not...
This post is part of the contest A picture can say a thousand words.. on


  1. the three views have been portrayed very well. All the best for the contest!

    1. Thank you so much!!
      - you r the very first person to post a comment on my blog! - so freakin honoured!

  2. Nice perspective from all the three parties.

  3. This post is unique...great take, Vishnu on the theme. Well done! Am going to vote for this :))

  4. Like the fact that you have put forth so many angles to one single event... Good Luck for the contest :)

  5. A unique take, definitely. Liked it, Vishnu! Getting different perspectives to read is always a good thing in my book. Good luck! :)

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  7. NO wonder, I was hooked to every word of it. :)
    Brilliant post. The emotions have been carried out exceptionally. Great work.