Pictures that make me feel something. From the cold, roaring heart of the beast that is China.
Woman brushing her dog, Laoshan, 2020
Sometimes, when you have nothing better to do than chase the smoggy golden hour to the far-flung corners of the city, you get lost veering off the beaten track. On this particular morning I was shaken by a sleepless night and must have taken a wrong turn somewhere. Judging by the frosty stares I was drawing from passers-by, I was guessing they didn’t see many foreign devils around this ‘hood. An old lady actually stopped right in front of me and started hurtling a barrage of screeching, unintelligible abuse at my already fragile person.
I had no idea what could have upset her so. Like everyone else, I was dutifully wearing a mask, despite my better judgement and the early heat. Starting out, I thought I blended in quite well with my band of fellow forlorn highwaymen, all dressed up for that big ol’ heist none of us would ever pull off.
I guess my blue eyes gave me away. And the bulky Nikon on my hip probably didn’t help. Perhaps she thought I was a brash Russian spy. Or even worse, a rogue American tourist. With my trusted response of disarmingly weak Chinese not working its magic this time, I was forced to duck into an alley to escape her mounting fury.
When I eventually stepped out onto a deserted square, it was as if I’ve entered into another world. Except for the ragged beating of my heart, it was eerily quiet. Across from me, on the far side, a young woman was placidly brushing her dog’s coat in the pale dawn light.
She looked up for just a second. Her eyes smiled, mine smiled back.
I slid down with my back against the wall, stuffed the fucking mask into my pocket and just sat there watching them for a while. If she was aware of my tears, she wasn’t letting on.
I had no idea how I was going to get home. But then again, I’ve been lost for a long, long time.
All in all, it was just another morning on the other side of town.
© Jac Kritzinger.
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