Does this boy have water security? Do you?
I shot this image many years ago at Crawford Market in Bombay. The market and city names are different now, but my memory is terrible, so I stay with the old names! I remember posting this image on this site and a few other social media platforms. I was close to the end of that day’s shooting and stood near the parking lot. People stood around, drinking some awful pink muck. Then, I noticed this young boy picking up a plastic cup from the ground and filling it with water. I framed him with the trucks as background. Issues like water security did not enter my consciousness. We change.
I have had my brushes with waterborne disease. The first time it happened was when I sat in the train going home after our college convocation. Business school was over. When I sat in the train, I wondered if I should do a Ph.D. I felt thirsty but did not want to dance onto the railway platform to get water. I reached out of the window and pulled a large rubber tube towards me. The railway authorities use these tubes to wash trains. What can I say? Call me young and foolhardy. The dirty water almost killed me, and in thirty minutes, I got diarrhea. Through the eighteen hours in the train and the subsequent three-hour car ride home, I kept rushing to the toilet. I arrived home at 5 am the next morning, almost in a coma.
I have always been paranoid about water since. When I photographed this boy, I only cared about the image composition and the awful water he drank. In India, we like to fool ourselves. We have a myth: our lousy conditions help to strengthen our immune systems. When confronted with data, we brush it away.
Since those days, we have continued to screw the planet. Water security is going to become a big issue. I also remember reading the statement by the CEO of Nestle, saying there is no reason water should be free. This is neoliberalism at its worst.
Over time, I moved towards the left and socialism. However, I confess I must study socialism before I can make that statement with any certainty. I will say this, however. We change. As we change, we interpret images differently. All those years back, the image was a photo opportunity and a source of wonder. Now, I look at the image and see more than just the composition of a boy forced to drink polluted water. I think of water security, growing inequality, and a world going rogue.
What is in your mind? I am curious to know.
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