I saw him on a Saturday, seated on these steps on the roadside, hawking lottery tickets. He saw me, waved, pointed to the tickets in his hand, and smiled. He was animated, and the smile was heart-warming and infectious. I do not buy lottery tickets, but I couldn’t help smiling back at him as I walked past.
And then something strange happened. I felt I had to help him by buying a ticket from him, so I walked back and bought a ticket. I then understood the reason behind the eloquence of his gestures and movements: he was dumb. Last week when I passed him, he smiled and through gestures indicated that he wanted a print of the photo I’d taken of him. That’s on my to do list for the coming week.
Wielding a camera on the street does have its risks; I’ll never forget the monk who hurled abuse at me when I began taking his picture. But more often than not, the camera succeeds in bridging the distance with people whom I’d otherwise walk past without a second look.