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Photographer's Note

This portrait is far from technically perfect. It's out of focus, taken in a dark area, but sharpening it will only make it grainy, so I post it like this.
This is a very young girl I met sitting in a doorway of a house in a dark alley in the Indian city of Varanasi in 1972. I was fascinated by her looks, especially her eyes, and asked to take her picture. She didn't answer, didn't in fact react in any way, just looking blankly at me as if she was drugged. I tried to talk gently to her as I got my camera ready, but she still didn't react. When I left, she still looked at me with the same expressionless eyes.
When I saw this picture recently, for the first time in decades, I realized what I didn't notice before, that this is one of the saddest girls I've seen. She's been haunting me since then. What made her so sad? Was she a household-slave, forced to work hard although she couldn't have been more than 10 years old? Or was she even more unfortunate, maybe a child prostitute? I have to admit that 36 years ago it didn't enter my mind that such a thing even existed.
I will never know who this mysterious girl was. I can only hope that she found some reasons to smile later on.
This was scanned from a Kodachrome slide.

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Additional Photos by Gert Holmertz (holmertz) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 10485 W: 533 N: 20347] (89328)
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