Scavenging for Charcoal...

...or bits of unburnt wood or coal or paper – anything to burn.

I tried to ask permission to use the picture, but maybe my Hindi wasn’t good enough by then, or she didn’t know Hindi (this was an area where Hindi isn’t the first language for most folk, although the local language is similar enough for most folk to get by), or she didn’t want to talk to me.

She was very happy to accept five rupees, which I took as permission; she gave me a big smile when I gave it to her. It was a useful bit of money at that time.

I’ve never made any money out of any of my photographs, but if I made any money out of a photo like this, I’d feel very uncomfortable – I’d feel I owed her a share of it, but I’d never be able to find her, and it would certainly cost far more to try to find her than I’d made. With no means of clear communication, I couldn’t have got her address even if she’d wanted to give it to me; she might well not be in the same place now anyway; it’s very likely the postal service doesn’t really work at all where she lives.

Bihar, India. 1984. (This place is now in Jharkhand.)

Back to Thumbnails: India / Assortment.

©Clive K Semmens 1984