Will You come Again..

by shalinijena

The morning was bright, the sun searing overhead and I was packing my bag for the most awaited day of my life after I joined Mass communication. It was my first ever shoot as a professional. My first ever documentary. My friend had decidedly found a subject amidst the bustling streets of Chintal in secunderabad. Our subject was a cement block maker with family of nine to feed, clothe and shelter, with a house not as big as my washroom and wages, enough to keep my neighbour’s dog alive. They were telugu speaking obviously and my short stay in AP and the Oriya tongue did not help much in understanding whatever my friend seemed to enquire. All I could do was : stand still with the HD video mode turned on, zoom in and out on the faces that spoke something or say ‘complained’ and peered occasionally at his 7 tiny mini children, who already believed themselves to be MAA TV celebrities and so kept on jostling their way to catch my lens.

It took me another moment to get distracted and notice their smiling eyes, pursed lips, whispering hellos, naïve looks and – uncombed, mucked up hair, clothes as old as them and feet’s sans slippers. The youngest- 2 year old was wearing a pair of sock though, with gaping holes at a distance of every 5cms. I do not usually feel pity. Pity is offending to any dignified human being. And so I reverted my attention back to my work. But my eyes strayed and betrayed again. I glanced back at their direction. They shied away behind their eldest sister and giggled. I pulled a little boy closer and took his picture. And then the ceremony followed. It took half an hour to satisfy them and- myself.

We were about to leave when the man asked for help. We looked at each other (me and my friend) and told him that we were not journalists yet. (Yet. Sigh) But, he knew that our college being a Christian missionary would help if we take a step. I nodded and promised to help. Do not blame me. The sun was glaring above me and my cotton shirt was all wet. So, promised to give a try at least. He smiled and I photographed his family and made another promise- to return back with a copy of his family picture.

I did not go.

I did not try.

I edited the movie, with subtitles, but did not try to do anything more than that. Not that it could have helped. The college itself needs funds. It cannot help them who are unable to pay fees, so why me, and that too for people, like who, we have only 80% of our country’s population.

But a try would not have hurt. Screening it in a few film fests would not have hurt either. Talking  about it to my friends would not have hurt again. And I did not do any of these.

Then one fine day, after about 2 months of the episode, my friend told me how one of the little girls of the seven had run after her bus that day. The burning guilt was sunburning my insides and I asked her why would she do that. She shrugged and said that may be they just remember her. Then she looked at me and said ‘us’. why us? well.. she said. She asked about you. I pretended as if I did not remember who exactly she was talking about. But she never knew how the little girl’s two words had etched my mind for a long time. Her shy smile and a silent tug on my arm as she asked.. Malli vasthava? Will you come again..

P.S. – I never went. I could not. But, I printed the photograph and she took it to them. Never asked her about their reaction or questions.. And my callousness paid the price too. The video, My first video, dissolved in digital codes went to invisible trash bin when my lappy crashed and so all datas…

Tit for tat. But now I feel better..

P.P.S- These pictures were luckily found in random pen drives. Had never given a thought to share them. But here I am..

Some more Pictures :…