Seetal (Sheetal) asked me to show her what I clicked. I saw those broken nails and some cracks on her fingers when she touched my camera screen. She said, “boodhi Ho gayi ab”. (I am turning old now) Before I could say anything, I heard someone commenting, “Chaand to Chaand hota hai, Kitna bhi boodha Ho jaye”. (The moon always remain pretty, no matter how old it gets).
I turned around to see an old man with a cheeky smile. Seetal jumped in and shouted, “Chal hat, Jaa yahan se” (get out of here). She looked at me again, smiled and said, “Aadmi hai mera” (That’s my husband), turned around and went back to begging.
Sheetal lives under a bridge, close to traffic signals in Mumbai (India), with her family that includes her husband, daughters and grandkids. While they all beg and sell petty stuff to make their day’s earnings, I stayed back to experience an hour worth of all the right ingredients that a family needs to stay as a family – happy, playful and together.
Although, on the road side, they ate together. The cops would occasionally come and shout, they stayed together. The kids came and goofed around while playing with Sheetal, they laughed together. It didn’t matter what situation were they in. What mattered was, what they had made out of the situation. And then her husband’s cheeky romantic comment at that age topped it all. Amazed to see that one huge happy family on the road side in Mumbai, I could not stop smiling. I needed to take a sigh to sink it all in, so I switched my camera off, put it in the bag, went across the road to sit and observe the moon (Sheetal) spreading her calm white light on her family with those never ending smiles, every single moment.
I have been blessed with many such stories during my street photography projects. Learn more at @bharatbediphotography on Instagram.