This is in response to Daily Prompt – Edge of the Frame.
We often capture strangers in photos we take in public. Open your photo library, and stop at the first picture that features a person you don’t know. Now tell the story of that person.
Though I have been told many a times to focus and click, I have yet to master the art. I goofed up here when I was trying to click the picture of my niece, horse riding around the Kodai Lake. By the time, I realised I had an extra person in the frame, it was too late. My niece had happily galloped away.
I decided to let the picture be as it is and forgot all about it.
Today, as I write for this prompt, I am intrigued to think about this stranger.
Kodaikanal is a hill station in South India, a popular destination among tourists. The Lake and its surrounding is the hub of all activities. Horse riding is one of the profitable activities the locals engage in.
It was a pleasant and sunny afternoon when we decide to visit the Lake and enjoy the ‘touristy’ stuff. The black and white beauty caught my niece’s fancy and off she went galloping. The Stranger, was the owner of the horse. He held the reins in one hand and cycled by the side of the horse.
He must have been doing the rounds since morning, yet his face showed no sign of tiredness.He slowly cycled on, his watchful eyes surveying the roads for interested tourists ,smiling and saying “Hello !” to children.
“Tamil?Kannada? English?”,he asks my niece. He points at the various landmarks around the Lake and tells her a little about their history.Tales about the haunted bungalows are a hit. Round one over, my niece decides she wants to go for another round. His strategy works.
He pats his horse and gives her a carrot. Interested, my niece asks “What is the horse’s name ? How old is she ?”. Ah ! the second round of animated discussions starts. He tells her that his horse is no ordinary horse. She is ‘Bijlee’ a race horse from Chennai who had been injured during a race and was about to be put to sleep.Luckily he had found her, nursed her. “Taking care of a horse is an expensive affair for a poor man, like me” he adds.
Round two over. We are getting late. No more, I tell my niece. He smiles and gets down from his cycle and walks a little distance,stops in front of a lady with a boy selling fries.
My niece gets down from the horse. She looks at me pleadingly, she wants to buy ‘Bijlee’ carrots. I pay for two rounds and extra for the carrots.
He thanks me and says “Madam, try these Mirchi Bhaji ( chilli fry) very tasty, Kodai Special “. Obviously hungry by now, I take his suggestion, buy two plates of hot fries from the lady. The little boy squeezes a lemon over them.
As the horseman walks away with his horse in search of new customers, the boy suddenly gets up and runs behind him calling out “Papa, Papa!!!”
I can’t help but smile.