The other morning while waiting in line for a bus, I overheard a conversation between two ladies who hadn’t seen each other in a while.
“I’m normally used to seeing you in a blue uniform” said one.
“I’d resigned from that job, now I’m going back” replied the other.
This lady – the one normally clad in blue uniform – hadn’t been to work in over a year (one year and five months, she revealed as the conversation progressed). I wanted to ask what motivated her to go back to a job which she was, according to that same exchange, “sick and tired” of doing. What was she expecting this time around? How would she navigate the very environment she decided to leave? What would she do differently?
I met with the gentleman in the picture above during a stop-over on a taxi ride from Maseru to Johannesburg. He lives in Hlohlolwane
, a little farming town in the Free State Province where nothing much seems to happen. He was going around asking for money; I offered him a couple of coins in exchange for a portrait and conversation. Something seemed off about him; it was like he’d been through too much suffering and had now surrendered to a life of scouring the streets of this miniature town for any scraps he could find.
I asked him if he’d worked in the mines at one point.
“Yes” he replied.
Had he been to the doctor lately?
“No, no my brother. You see, the hospital is expensive. It can only be afforded by rich people, like those in that taxi” he said.