An intimate look at social conditions is, for me, a challenging thing to record and document. There is a fine line between being respectful of a fellow human being’s privacy and the irresistible urge to document each important thing that is in front of me. I am careful to wander into this ‘terrain’ for fear of being too much. The paradox of respectfully asking questions and craving to want more with more questions is always present.
When witnessing these women’s bodies contort to the inevitable physical manifestations of old age, I feel a sudden realisation of the impermanence of youth and time. The age we so declare in numbers, the convincing truths of believing in “your age is what you feel”, often begs to differ with how people notice every wrinkle, every white hair sprouting from our very skin. I ask very personal questions about their lives, their physical pain, their ailments… But they open up to me without constraints, feeling at the ease with me. It is very humbling to hear their stories and I am honoured they trust me enough to share them with me and allow me to share it with others..
Is it painful? I asked Lourdes when I saw her feet.
It’s only painful when I wear shoes. This only happened when I got older, she said matter-of-factly.
Most of them do not complain about their lives. They find delight in telling me how their lives were before. For them, it is not about the time that has passed, but the glorification that they have reached this certain age.
When do we become aware of being ‘old’? Does it start at a certain age, at a certain recognition of the first wrinkle or strand of white hair? Too many times, when I am with these ladies whose ages range from 70 to 100, I am reminded about my own life. Am I making the most out of my life? How many years do I have left? Personally I wouldn’t mind my hair turning white or the first wrinkles on my face. Like them, I’d like to think of these things as the glorification of my years, because many are not given the chance to grow old.