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Photo Opportunity

Everybody watched as time ticked by. Three minutes later the photographer was yet to take a picture. The woman shuffled her high heels back and forth, patted her scarf at the back, rebalanced the wad of wrapper hung around her right shoulder and returned a bland look at the general audience.

Soon thereafter the woman began to explore reasons for the delay. If the photographer weren’t too tall, and too huge, and old, he would have taken a few pictures by now.

Getting ready for a photograph and not immediately proceeding was what annoyed her about taking pictures at a public event. Younger people can tolerate such an ordeal, but not her, not when in nine months she would become a grandmother.

In a sudden disdain for the photographer, the woman’s gaze swung down, exposing the whites of her eyes. Displeasure conveyed through two scorching eyes is more direct and more stinging than that conveyed through mere spoken words, no matter how acidic.

The offending camera, a Sony, was skewed to the left where it had hooked with the flashlight appendage. The photographer pulled the flashlight out and scowled at it close up, the way African fathers glare at naughty boys, before reattaching it to the side of the camera.

He reassured himself that everything was fine. Just because he hadn’t taken a picture yet didn’t mean he was inactive. Credit, he knew, only goes to those who show results, never to those who show activity. However, he had expected better treatment from the woman, who – had he married early – was young enough to be his daughter.

Another idea flew into the woman’s head. If the old man, like many men at this age, was short-sighted and unable to read her eyes, she might at some point scream at him.

But screaming, she decided, would not only mess up her perfect picture body but might further irritate the old man. An action once taken can produce a myriad of unpredictable reactions. The photographer might feel threatened and resort to taking her picture when she was looking at her worst. Preserving her beauty by staying still trumped any delay caused by his inefficiency.

Over his camera, the photographer gazed at the woman. She was a statue of bright color in a garden full of colors. Her pink scarf tied around her head still held up high. The sheet of folded blue wrapper hung over her right shoulder draped down to her hip. But her perfect picture face had begun to melt a little at the edges.

Then he moved his finger over the snap button, and the woman knew something was about to happen. ‘At last,’ she sighed. The man had begun to get control of the situation. The flashlight appendage was behaving, and the camera apparatus felt sturdier in his grip.