She walked in her body small and frail in a straight dress the type used for night dresses with its glossy fell her shadow behind her. Her body frame fit the type scripted for roles of HIV/AIDS sufferers/survivors in the local movie industries. Her hair a cheap wing picked from many of the mushrooming container cum saloons around the corner was wild left to spread in the wind only parted at the at the right hand corner of her forehead in a mass of black that gradient-ed out into brown. Her dress with cream flowers had a shoulder slings that reveal her black bra that capped small breasts that couldn’t fit into a babies palms sucked dry by the number of babies she had let suck at them during her life.
I want photocopy in this passport photo she requested throwing her frail body on the counter and uncapping her palms to reveal a passport size photograph 1.5 inches by 1.5 inches the background brown from dirt and age. The picture was for an even more frail elderly woman probably in her sixties with worked face, lips that crawled into a mound for a mouth the line identifying the mouth all filled with mangled up skin and her cheeks stretched to breaking point she looked in pain trying to smile when the photo was taken probably at home using an amateur camera given the blue faded back ground not the standard white background in most photographs.
I got the picture and powered the white man’s machine to run its magic Photoshop, connected to a printer and my brain working was as a wing man this was a piece of cake. I sat down without saying anything to her since she had been here before and inquired about the price a few days back. As the machines powered she placed her head on the counter like she was sinking into thought that was already painted on her face.
She laid her head on her arm that was on the counter opening the arm pits that polluted the atmosphere for a few which was followed by the stench from the wig she had on her head. A smell common with most women who don’t regularly wash their hair for fear of making it get old really quick so they wash other parts expect the hair. No sooner had she put her head down than she looked up
Are you working on me?
I nodded in the affirmative
She then placed her head on the counter and began humming a catholic hymn about the love of holy virgin Mary as she bit of her fingernail that was cracked too at the tip before looking up again
I also want you to photograph me
Ok, I replied let me fist this that I am working on.
Members of this community call every duplicate a photocopy which technically it is however it’s more about reproducing the same photo after running photoshop magic on it. I scanned it in higher resolution than let the magic of Photoshop on it clearing all unwanted sections to print worthy quality. The old woman in the scanned photography stared at me poverty written all over her face in her eyes you could see a kindergarten of grandchildren pulling at her gomesi hunger in their stomachs. Her traditional dress a gomesi pink in colour that formed a square around her chest area before spiking out at the shoulders. Her chest was dry and this stretched into her neck skin forming gulley like features. Her cheek bones were too stretched out by age eyes white and her beauty smile was now covered by flesh that over her long life had now replace that beauty smile she had in her younger days. Her hair was combed back and tapped into place at the eyes it was flat then rose into a mound to the top of her head.
I called up the magic wand to clear the blue back ground but small patches of blue remained especially in areas where her hair reigned supreme to which I used the brush tool whose colour had been eye dropped from her hair slowly brushing away the blue patches that remained only paused by constant zooming In and out of the photo to see to it nothing remained. Meanwhile my frail client kept humming away her catholic hymn now getting louder and louder my next hope she did go into one of those spiritual trances where they get on their feet. With grand ma propped up and ready for printing I duplicated the images and laid them on a 4 by 6 template and pulled the camera bag for my Nikon.
It’s a brick like camera with so many functions I have no clue of what to do with except my favourite ensure the flash is on and the scene is land scape. I stood up and moved towards the frail woman who humming way looking at the flour that had her cheap chines flat shoes in patterns of black and white that carried with them a thick layer of dust where ever she came from it must be from around the block. She raised her head and stood on her feet extending her pencil like frame leaving behind her shoes. She then pulled them back into her feet using her equally dusty toes with fading cuticle polish that was brown in colour. She sat up and pulled up her dress at the chest area set her hair to be photographed leaning against the wall her head at an angle to which I instructed
Don’t lean, you will look disabled in the photo
OH, sorry a smile running across her face revealing big white teeth with patches of cream on her tooth gums. When she smiled you saw beauty, beauty that had been washed away from living a hard life of poverty, ignorance and not going far in school. One one look at her she probably had a baby not more than two years old, lived in a two roomed house with a husband who contributed nothing but sex at night but ensured his privileges were always intact kept in place by traditions and ensured everything remains the same for eternity.
The smile on her face died as quickly as it had appeared and her focus on the lens of her camera that would flash the moment I pressed the shutter button and moments later her first picture filled the display screen an image heavy light, and her head responded instinctively shaking a little bit. The next photo was a little toned down her features clearly filling the camera view screen surely her role mode must be Beyoncé with the round head that took a sharp turn at the chin wonder how she would look if she was pampered like the celebrities we see in the magazines. The last photo was even more toned down, her eyes fully focussed on the camera she didn’t even blink or twitch she the camera surely loves her.
I pressed the preview button to make her pick from the three stills taken swiping left to right and back and with each photo the smile as the camera momentarily went back to reveal another still one after another she would purr another one another one till I interrupted her dreams they are over when a still of an even older woman showed up on the screen a scar under her left eye she bit her finger.
I think you take the first one
You mean this one, swiping left several times to reveal the image taken in full light.
Yes, that one I like it
She then got onto her feet but I noticed something all this time she didn’t have any old currency notes locked safely away in her small palms and I hated the whole idea of her digging into her bra to pull out a currency note to pay for the services I had rendered but I kept that question for later.
I returned round the counter and opened up the image of the old on already laid up and clicked the print button In the left hand corner of the image moments later the printer was dancing under its own vibrations as the 4 by 6 photo paper was making its slow journey right through the jaws of the printer between the cartridges of the canon pixman and the conveyor system whose work was to push the paper along. The final image was spat out a minute later grand mum looking new than ever the cracks of age that covered the photo I had scanned all gone, the dirty too on the cover of the photo as well as the ugly blue back ground of fading paid gone too. The wrinkles on her skin buried she looked several times younger less annoyed and the desperate hopeless white look in the eyes reduced too now she looked calmer too.
Placed the printed photo on the counter got the paper cutter taking care to not the cut the image I trimmed off the white patches into inch perfect squares of only grand ma and slipped the final product into small envelopes that I handed to the woman who was now anxiously waiting on the other end of the counter.
Woo….mother looks younger, the moment she got the pictures
That’s your mum I looked her and compared her to the smile less woman in the pass photos I had been working on and there was one thing for her in life to end up looking like her mother when she ages.