“Would you like to see the pictures I clicked?” the old lady asked me as I sat at a restaurant in Chicago, where I had come to stay for a few days. I looked at her, she had been sitting alone at the next table and had waited for this opportunity to speak with me once my family had decided to visit the stores outside. She was in her seventies and I saw her holding out her camera phone with eyes that pleaded for someone to see what she had taken.
I took her phone and stared amazed at different pictures she’d clicked. Amazed not at the stark beauty she had managed to capture, not at the places she had visited, but at the pictures, all in black and white.
“You only like taking them in black and white?” I asked trying to smile.
“Is there any other color?” she asked puzzled.
I turned to her settings and changed the mode to colour. She took the camera phone from me and walked to the window. Her gnarled fingers aimed the camera at a couple sitting outside and she clicked. Her face broke into a smile as she looked at the picture and then came to me. “They are in love!” she giggled. “I can see their love in the colour!”
I watched as she bounded out of the restaurant clicking at everything she could focus on. Suddenly her world had changed.
My family had not come back yet, and I sat awhile and pondered on people who only saw the world in black and white: Refugees from Syria, whose children shared in their misery, only seeing a bleak, black world devoid of love, bereft of colour! Women in fanatical societies, chained to the medieval ages by insecure men hiding behind convenient religious beliefs! Minorities living in intolerance in lands ruled by democratically elected leaders from the majority community.
Did they deserve a world of black and white?
Why couldn’t their settings be changed to colour?
She was still happily clicking photos as I walked into the sunshine outside. It was a new world that had been opened for her, with just a small adjustment on her phone.
Isn’t it our responsibility to do so with all those who see the world in black and white ? To turn their world into colour?
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