Since there was really no one else but us sitting on the coffee shop’s veranda, she started talking to me. She told me how she had a bad stay this time in Cambodia, and how the conditions were wretched, and how she couldn’t wait to get home.
The woman said she'd walked past a local woman earlier this morning. The Khmer (Cambodian) woman was sitting along the boardwalk that parallels the riverside. She was sitting out in the sun on the ground on a bamboo mat. She was breastfeeding her baby.
I tried to be polite but didn’t want to talk to the Australian lady, and I even got on my phone during the pauses, but she didn’t take the hint. Instead, she complained about the local woman who was lying on the ground and breastfeeding.
“They have no self respect,” the Australian said. “At least cover up.”
She said when she walked by the Khmer woman, she pulled one of her rags over her exposed breast and threw her a dollar.
I told her I was pretty sure it was a poverty thing, not a self-respect thing, but she went on. Luckily, the Australian woman’s coffee date showed up so I was off the hook, and soon, my friend showed up for coffee, too.
After coffee, I wanted to walk along the riverside, to clear my head – and those who have sat on the banks of a river and contemplated life know there is no better place for it. (P.S. Read Siddhartha by Herman Hesse.)
When she was done feeding, I asked if I could take her photo by showing her my camera and signaling. She nodded yes. I clicked the button. When they heard the whirrrr of the camera and saw the white plastic photo, other little kids ran over to look at what it was.
I gave the woman the photo, and took a couple shots of her holding her new family portrait up with my iPhone.
When I look at these photos, when I look into her eyes, I see a lot of things - but lack of self-respect is not one of them.
- Norm :-)
To read more like this, just click on the Give a Photo category to the right, and thanks for sharing.
This is part of a series where I take approach random poor, homeless, or just remarkable people here in Cambodia, and ask if I can take their photo. I do so but with a Fujifilm instant camera, so the photograph pops out and develops right on the spot. I then had them the photo, sometimes the only one they've ever owned. I then capture the moment with a shot from my iPhone so I can share it with you, but my new friend gets to keep the photo.
You can read more about it here: Can I give you this photo, please?