Do you ever find a photograph that pings back to you a host of wonderful memories? These come as you idly thumb through albums or via the modern way of Facebook Memories. The latter, to be honest, I have switched off at source as everything I said in the first line can also work in reverse. I’ve had mornings ruined by my computer randomly flashing up something I’d rather forget. So, while looking for something totally unrelated, I fell upon the picture below. The date is 2005 and I’m standing in the courtyard of a dwelling in a village outside Delhi, a mule is nuzzling my hand and there are various members of a 13-strong family around me. Look at the lady in the red sari – unbeknownst to her, she changed my professional life. I was in India helping to promote the work of The Brooke, an amazing charity that cares for working horses and mules in India, Pakistan and Egypt. These animals are integral to families’ survival; without them, they cannot get their children to school, pick up supplies or earn a living through brick factories, agriculture, or tourism. The Brooke funds vets and helps supply basic equine medical equipment.
To help fundraisers understand the importance of their work, we photographed this family as an example. The mule had been made lame in a minor accident. Without The Brooke’s help a mild infection would have worsened, the mule would be rendered permanently lame and the whole family would suffer. On entering this lady’s courtyard she sent her son for the best chair they had and offered me food and drink. To the horror of the trip co- ordinator I accepted, thinking, Even if I throw up in every gutter between here and my hotel I can’t say no, it would be an insult. We proceeded to shoot ever ything with regard to the mule and as the photographer was packing up, the lady asked me with pride into her home. A revelation! The little she had in this one small room was immaculate, her scrubbed kitchen table was set with placemats from her own needle, ever y piece of kitchen equipment was either on a hook or in a cleaned-out tin can, beautifully arranged on a shelf. In all that dust, how she kept her children clean and her sheets so white still baffles me. She was the High Priestess of making the very best of what she had and the inspiration for my obsession for making Perfect Housewife. So keep your eyes and mind open; you never know if the next person you meet could change your life.
Love, Anthea X
Article originally from My Weekly!