KARACHI: The hands of a 15-year-old girl looked as gnarled as those of an elderly woman. They spoke of how they became like that by the bitter dryness and the scorching heat of the arid desert. A fly had landed on them to feed on an open cut. But the girl seemed unmoved — perhaps because the scales formed by the accumulation of dead cells on her hands did not allow her to feel the fly’s presence.
Green Crescent Trust (GCT) public relations manager Saad Zuberi, who clicked the picture, says the girl is suffering from a skin disease but that is the least important of her problems. That’s because she is a Thari.
When eight young people from Karachi made their way to Tharparkar four weeks ago, little did they know about the plight of the Tharis. But when they came back, their cameras had captured and preserved both the sufferings and the perseverance of the people of the desert.
The tour was organised by the GCT in collaboration with Alliance Francaise de Karachi. The budding photographers displayed the treasure they brought from the arid land at the Alliance on Friday under the theme, ‘Tharparkar: Beautiful & Misunderstood – a cultural and photography exhibition’.
According to Karachi University Visual Studies Department student Aizaz Tahir, he has tried to bring out the culture of Tharparkar. “My pictures show life,” he said. “Life in Thaparkar means water.” Pointing towards his favourite picture in which a few children were running between mud-made houses covered with hay, he said that this depicts life there. “Despite all the troubles due to scarcity of water, they are happy,” he asserted. He pointed out how a nine-year-old girl was hopping around while carrying her one-year-old sister in her arms. “This is a common sight there,” he said. “Even the little kids have a sense of responsibility and take good care of their younger siblings when their mothers and fathers are out to fetch water and search some labour.”
Another masterpiece of Tahir depicted an old woman with eyes brimming with longing. The young photographer said that this woman was waiting for her daughters who had gone in a neighbouring village to get their pots filled with water.
According to photographer Zahid Suleman, he sought Tharparkar for providing insight through his pictures on the rich cultural landscape of the arid land.
A girl sneaking out of the door of her mud-made house was the best of his shots. According to him, the captivating expression of the young girl showed how eagerly she wanted to go out. The expression spoke of how she wanted to go out to explore the world and prove her skills. “Maybe she wants to become a doctor or an engineer,” he said, while gazing at his own masterpiece. “Or who knows, she could turn out to be a perfect artist. Her eyes are speaking of how full of talent she is.”
Alongside the photographs, 12 drawings were on display. Nine of these drawings were made by students of the Hilal Public School, which is run by the GCT in the desert region.
These nine drawings, among other things, depicted peacocks in different moods. “If you went outside in Tharparkar at around seven in the morning, you would observe as many peacocks as the number of pigeons you see here in Karachi,” said Zuberi. He added that the theme the children worked on was ‘Tharparkar, as they see it’.
Various children came up with different ideas on their surroundings. While class-seven student Ram Kumar drew a blue peacock roaming around his mud-made house, class-three student Preenka drew how her mother prepares lassi outside her house under the shade of a tree.
The exhibition ends March 13.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 1st, 2015.