I don’t think it’s easy being a woman in this place. In many ways, life is like it was hundreds of years ago in other places. When a girl marries, she often leaves her own family and comes to live with her new family where she often works very hard cooking and cleaning for her new family. She is sometimes mistreated by her new in-laws. Domestic violence is not uncommon. Marriages are most often arranged, and often happen within weeks of the first meeting of bride and groom. Sometimes even days after! It’s hard for us Westerners to understand how this works “in this day and age”. And yet it does. And the women persevere. They live and go on. Many thrive and learn to love their husbands and their new families. Not all stories are dark. Many families are very close and loving, and it’s been a joy for me to meet many of them. But amidst the happy stories, there are always the sad ones too.
The portraits I have for you today are all of women. I don’t know all of these women’s stories. I interacted with them for just a short period of time, so didn’t hear their life stories. But in their faces I see strength. I see beauty. Despite the passing of years and outer beauty, and whatever they have weathered in their lives, there remains a fierce inner strength, or a remarkable sense of innocence, gentleness and grace that you can not help but admire and marvel at.
This lady had spunk! She saw me walking on her dead end street, and immediately called out to ask me what I was doing (as I obviously didn’t belong!). When I explained that I was just looking around, she came over and started talking with me. She agreed to pose for me, even though she couldn’t understand why I would want a photo of her! She insisted she was ugly, and I insisted back that she most certainly was not!
This lady was so sweet. We talked briefly and after communicating for awhile with her in her language (pretty badly, really), she thanked me for learning her language. That was really special for me. It’s not every day you get thanked for learning someone’s language.
After meeting the lady on the left and talking to her for awhile, I got to meet her good friend, and they wanted to be photographed together, which I was happy to do!
This woman had such a gentle, sweet spirit, which I think comes across in these photos.
This lady was so funny! She saw me walking towards her and immediately approached me and started talking to me. As she saw my camera, she wanted her photo taken, and proceeded to fix her headscarf and pose for me. I love this series of three photos, as I think it really captures her quirky character! :)
And then I love this more serious close-up as well.
I didn’t interact with this woman as much. I spoke with her neighbour (photos above) and she seemed happy to stay in the background. But when I saw her green outfit and the green door behind her, I couldn’t resist asking for her photo!
This lady was a real card! She had such an interesting outfit on, and as she seemed quite willing to pose for me, I photographed her from a few different angles. I was having trouble communicating exactly how I wanted her to stand, however, and after moving her this way and that, and trying to show her with my own body what I was wanting her to do, she finally just broke down in a fit of giggles. And I just happened to catch it!
I sat and talked with this woman for quite a while. She was super friendly and patient with my very limited language abilities!!
I can’t stop thinking of this woman. She was the last woman I visited with that day and she really made an impact on me. She is 80 years old and when I came across her, she was busy sweeping in front of her house! We had a lovely visit, sitting on that tree trunk, and she told me that her husband had passed away 30 years ago. She only had an education up to grade 5. But she was the sweetest woman, and invited me to come over anytime and just knock on her door. I think I just might take her up on that offer! :)
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