Beauty in the Back

Notes on Creativity theme of the week:
Creative Solutions to Big Problems

“When engaging the ugly front of reality, don’t neglect the beauty in the back.” -Monica Wood

In the documentary, Born Into Brothels, photographer Zana Briski starts out taking pictures in the brothels of Calcutta and ends up teaching children born into them to record their lives through the art of photography.

The children learn to look at the world around them differently. While the ugly front of their reality is not changed,  they learn to see the beauty in the back. They gain a new lens through which to look at their surroundings and a way to share their stories with the world.

Their photographs receives international attention and are exhibited in New York. For several of these children, a door is opened to a world beyond the brothels. One of them, Avijit Halder, has even gone on to study film-making in NY. This short video is a compilation of some of his work:

The camera gave these children new eyes with which to see their lives. What do you see when you look at your life?


Today’s 4 Minute Writer

Erna and Florence

They’re in their 80s, both of them. Here they are in the nursing home, roommates. Cellmates? Seems all they do is lay around, each in their own bed, separated by a mustard yellow curtain that’s hardly ever drawn. Erna always has the tv on. Florence can’t stand it. In all the times I’ve come to visit, I’ve never seen them talk to each other. How odd, such close quarters and no interaction.

Today, for the first time, Florence suddenly tells me she likes her roommate. Maybe Erna overhears and that’s what starts it. She leans over and calls out, “Hey,” to get Florence’s attention. She has to say it loudly, Florence’s hearing isn’t that good.

We both look over. Eyes fixed on Florence, Erna sticks out her tongue. Florence laughs and sticks out her own. Erna counters with a tongue out and ups the ante by pulling on her earlobe. The game is on. Florence adds a nose wrinkle, Erna pulls both ear lobes. Florence snorts, Erna goes bug-eyed. They both break out into a bout of laughter like schoolgirls.

I didn’t know fun could be had in this place. I hope there’s more of it for them.

Use the comment field to suggest a topic, submit your writing on today’s 4 Minute Writer topic (Erna and Florence), or to comment.


Filed under Creativity, Writing

2 responses to “Beauty in the Back

  1. This is so inspiring. I’m sure I shall be thinking about those children in Calcutta all the way through tomorrow. Thanks Zoe:-)

    • I can’t imagine what it would be like to grow up there. It boggles my mind how some people are born into ‘easy’ circumstances and others are born into brothels. The Beauty in the children born into difficult circumstances shines all the more brighter I’d say…

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