Take a look at the image above. What do you see?
Several pretty pastel-coloured houses. Air conditioning units, lots of them. A man in a brown T shirt and grey-beige shorts walking along the street, on the phone and I would guess not very cognisant of the world around him, involved as he no doubt is in his conversation. He is in the shade, the bright sunlight not reaching down to the concrete of the road. A palm tree, green frond-like leaves, clusters of small fruits and a ringed brown trunk. Several plastic chairs, light and dark grey, one red. Fold up round tables with wooden tops and metal legs. Two turquoise blue crates housing verdant green plants. A tarpaulin of a similar shade of blue upon which rest several old palm leaves. A mustard yellow statue stands proud upon this covering too. The tarpaulin is laid over a shelter of sorts in which lies a man, on his belly, torso bare, asleep. As his bedsheet he has a sky blue and cream ikat, a hand-crafted textile not a shabby sheet; his pillow looks covered with the same textile.
A man, in a street-shelter, in Singapore. In Singapore, yes that’s right. An island where we do not expect to see people living on the street. But that aside, take an even closer look at this man’s home. Spotlessly clean, with plants and somewhere to sit to watch the world go by, should he so choose. Ornamentation, maybe it is a religious icon, I cannot quite see.
It is said that ‘home is where the heart is.’ Never have I seen a more powerful expression of this phrase.
Dignity, beauty and an extraordinary sense of belonging.
(First published 2007)
Image © TJF Photographics 2007 All rights reserved