In the wheat field on the country-side, the thickness of the mud was less overpowering than the smell of sweat of the man who had woken up at four in the morning. His life was a millennial’s nightmare with its repetitive rigid routines and responsibilities that couldn’t be shrugged off even for a 10-min break. He had the caramel-skinned body of a Turkish model but if you looked at the condition of his feet and his hands you would be reminded of your granddad as he asked you to pass him that bottle of Vaseline lotion. The cracked heels and harsh hands might be an aberration to an onlooker who appreciated the overall physique but to the man, for whom even the sweat of his hard work brought nothing more than the burning sensation of salt on fresh wounds, they were memories.
I didn’t have to look at him much longer. My eyes were on the wheat grains. I have been taught that it is rude to stare at people and you should stare at things instead. Perhaps that is why wherever I go, I feel the gaze of so many well-mannered polite onlookers on my body. It is a thing of intrigue for one with an imaginative mind.
I looked at the field with the same awe as I had looked at the man, perhaps with a larger fascination. It amazed me how beautiful nature could be. It didn’t, however, bother my progressive mind that a thing which could barely be called alive was sucking the life out of a breathing human just for its growth. It is worth noting, however, that if you saw from far enough, the fields looked more alive than the man. One could see the wheat grains shining beneath the sunlight, moving back and forth with a whoosh as the wind blew. The man, however, couldn’t be seen or heard breathing or growing. Then it must be true that the crops were more alive than him. And without a crack or a drop of sweat nonetheless.
I drove a little farther until I lost sight of the Turkish lookalike who was barring my vision of the picture-perfect field. His tanned greasy body just didn’t match the golden crops growing on a brown muddy field with the wide sky creating an illusion of infinity. He was, to say the least, inconsequential in the grandiosity of things. He was, to say the most, not looking right for my Instagram-worthy snapshot.
I think I see the world in its truest sense when I’m looking at it through the viewfinder of my camera. I prefer the wide angle lens, to capture magnificent landscapes that I sometimes have to edit the skyscrapers out of. I prefer being upfront and harsh with my words when I’m in the field, as I see some degenerate-looking faces push their way into the field of my vision. They are a mark of absurdity on my Eutopian pictorial creation. And who wishes for portraits of poor in this world anyway?
As I said, it’s rude to stare at people, even if it’s a mechanical reproduction of them. It’s much better to stare at things instead. Like it’s just so easier to live with things rather than people. Perhaps that man in the field realises it too and chooses to get up at 4 in the morning. He likes to bend and break his body working in the field as the sun shines brightly because there’s no way a man would rather prefer seeing the faces of his starving children instead. He looked at me, I think; just when I went too close to take a close-up of the crop. But as soon as my eyes met his, he lowered his gaze. Perhaps he doesn’t know the ways of the world yet.
It’s not rude to stare at things and a thing is what people like me have become.