My father took this picture when the two of us went to a carnival somewhere in the outskirts of our city, back in the summer of 2009. Good times, man. Good times.
The carnival was vibrant with cotton candies, smiling children blissful in their ignorance, and their parents equally happy because their kids were happy. When you grow old and have kids, their happiness precedes yours.
There was a ground, bout as big as a football field, with pegs pegged into the ground at equal distances. Everyone had gathered around to behold the spectacle that was pegging. It’s a traditional sport depicting the rider’s bravado, his accuracy and his speed. The rider rides on his steed towards the peg, stoops sideways and plunges his spear into the wooden block. There have been injuries and even deaths in this sport. It’s not something that you and I can do. Takes a lot of practice, it does.
However, this recounting is not about the riders, rather, its about my father. He went and stood in the middle of the field, stooped on one knee and steadied his camera in his hands. The riders approached, riding amidst a storm of dust created by the stampeding hooves of their horses. The ground started trembling, tremoring rhythmically as the riders approached the pegs. My father did not move.
The three horsemen bent sideways, aimed their spears at the blocks of wood and BAM! they all succeeded in piercing the pegs. The crowd cheered. I sat amidst the crowd watching my dad with angst. My father’s a very stubborn person when it comes to photography. Apparently he hadn’t taken his shot and was still waiting for the right moment, the ripe moment.
the horsemen started coming very close to him, them not slowing down and him not budging from his place. His eyes watched them from behind the lens. They approached him with acceleration and by now had come to a dangerously close distance to him. That’s when I saw his finger make the slightest twitch to take the picture.
He had taken the picture(s) but by then the horsemen had come really close to him. He couldn’t just run out of their way. He couldn’t because if he did, he’d be trampled by the leftmost rider.
So I watched in horror as he decided to just sit there in the midst of the field, his camera still perched in front of his eyes. He did not shake, although the tremors were terribly magnanimous by now. In the last moment, before the middle horseman could collide with my father, the rider shifted his horse a tad to the left and my father shifted a tad to the right, thereby avoiding collision. It was a very Jon Snowy moment.
The crowd cheered, the horseman, who’d gotten off their horses came and hugged my father. It was a spontaneous, serendipitous and extemporaneous display of showmanship that they had decided to do. Although by the way they laughed and slapped each other on each other’ back suggested to me that they had pre-planned the shit out of it. I’ll never know.
He didn’t give me the pictures that he had taken in that particular nick of time. He said that I wasn’t ready to see them just yet. Whatever that means.
Sometimes my dad scares me. This was one of those times. Men aren’t supposed to be that brave. Or if they are, then they aren’t supposed to put that bravery (read: stupidity ha-ha) to display, because it emasculates the rest of us.