by davidbatho


This boy does not quite look comfortable sitting still. He seems a little amused at being pushed outside of the house, made up like this in public for the sake of a passport photo or something like it. It does not seem as if he chose the tie himself. And he can’t have been long from the barber’s, his hair still holding the crest of the wave combed into it, unbroken by the wind. I imagine his mother fussing over him one last time before pushing him into the machine, drawing the curtain shut, and feeding the slot with coins.

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Though amused he hardly seems buoyant; his shoulders are slumped, his body cramped and stuffed in the booth. Having submitted to the process, his lips seem passive as if there were nothing held back on his tongue or at least nowhere to speak it.

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But his right eye seems to be drifting free of the room, his mind almost elsewhere. And the right corner of his lip is turned down and tense with a touch of aggression. Perhaps he is not amused after all. (It strikes me in passing that if this detail were all that were left of the photo, I could have easily mistaken his face for that of a man twenty years his senior that had perhaps once been pinned to a board on a wall of his firm). But his left eye seems palpably shocked, as if it alone had caught sight of something that the other side of his face, becoming lost in thought, had missed entirely.

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I wonder how the other photos in the spool turned out. I suppose that among the others this one failed to make the cut. And that is why it was discarded or lost in a drawer and set on its way to the market where I picked it up. Perhaps in the very next moment, shaken into shape by the first flash, he recovered his composure, lifted his gaze and stared straight ahead, fixing the camera with the perfectly formal, blankly physical look that was all he had been asked for.