This is a story from three decades ago. I had just begun doing photography, in my hometown, Mangalore. My father who was a lawyer, had his office in a one storied BF building, at Kodialbail. It was made of wood and mud and had few shops, a restaurant and a bicycle repair shop in the ground floor. The first floor housed offices of several lawyers and Eddie, an artist, who used to paint portraits for a living.
There was another person who lived on the ground floor. Her name was Lakshmi. She was old, mentally deranged and her back was bent. No one really knew where she came from or how she landed up in that place. However Lakshmi was a remarkable person. She had no possessions, except for 2 brooms. She used to sweep the streets for about 500 meters either side of BF Building. She diligently swept the sides of the road every day. She didn’t beg. Neither did she ask for anything from anyone. Occupants of the building would give her 5 paise or a 10 paise coin once in a while. Owner of Lakshmi Nivas, the restaurant, used to give her three meals a day. Lakshmi always shared her food with a couple of street dogs who used to hang out with her and some crows which used to arrive as soon as she sat down to eat.
I did a photo story on her then. It was published in a local daily called ‘Mungaru’ ( Monsoon). It has been 30 years since, but I have not forgotten Lakshmi.
Here are some images of Lakshmi. All were photographed using Ilford FP-4. Developer was Microdol X, 1:3 dilution, 20 minutes at 20 degree centigrade.