Sometimes a simple picture can say more than a thousand words. This is a snapshot taken by one of our kids during a photography workshop. I presume it is the picture of his home, a home he is a proud of. You do not need to be a rocket scientist to see that this is a tiny space and I can tell you with certitude that it provides shelter to at least six souls. You do not need to have a super mansion to be house proud and I have been surprised and touched to see how much pain the lady of the house takes to make her seemingly hideous hole look like home, more than certain uber rich homes I have visited where you are scared of sitting on the outrageously priced white sofa and where you try and look for a personal touch and find one. I guess page 3 people might recognise the interior decorator.
But a slum tenement is personalised to the hilt. In this case you can see the minute 'garden' with a tree and small plants, the clothesline strung across what one could call the 'courtyard'. I am certain that inside there would be shelves with sparklingly clean vessels and containers with food items; a bed cover on the sole bed, the multitude of nails on the mail each with its designated use: school bags, clothes of each one of the inhabitants and so on. The walls would have some pictures pasted on it, often of Gods and there would also be a tiny shelf with some decorations pieces picked up at the equivalent of the dollar store - the china bazaar - or the weekly mart. There would also be a TV with its own shelf.
In this picture what struck me was the empty armchair. It seems it has been left deliberately so as the lady of the house is seated on another one next to it. Probably the empty one belongs to the husband and is not be to be used. In all probability the man of the house is a drunk and like all of his kind resorts to violence at the drop of a hat or in this case were he to know that someone dared sit on his chair.
But to me the empty chair seems to have a far deeper and subtler message. It looks like the chair lies empty waiting for hope and unfulfilled dreams. It perhaps states, in an almost tragic and mournful manner, the aspirations this family must have had when they left their native village to seek a better future for their children and how they were dashed. But is also proves that they have not given up and that maybe someday someone will come and sit on this armchair and conjure all the miracles that none of them dare express.