There she was, one small Thai girl holding 99 red balloons. Well, not 99, but quite a lot of balloons. I had just escaped out of the throngs of shoppers in the Chiang Mai Sunday walking street and shuffled, relieved to be free, into an intersection.
There she was, this unknown girl in a dark plaid shirt clutching strings that were pulled upward by the night sky. It was still a busy intersection, one with people flowing from all four directions in a blur of prospective customers, but not one stopped for a bright red balloon. It was like another dimension, one where she was suspended in a parallel plane with life whizzing by her all around; all she could do was pivot slowly as if she was standing on the spinning wheel of a music box. But no happy melody played.
There she was, this young Thai girl grasping red balloons which all seemed to ache to defy gravity and float away into the blackness — so many balloons she clutched tightly that it seemed they could float her tininess away too.
There she was, her name unknown, and I wondered as I saw her pivot to the silent song of night if she would go with those bright red balloons if they could pull her aloft to some faraway place. I wondered if she knew of a far away place, or if she had a fantasy place in her head that these balloons could float her away to.
There she was, a seemingly sweet young Thai girl with her eyes flicking from one corner to another, one person to another. I wondered what went through her head — maybe she dreamed of that faraway place? Maybe she dreamed no dreams? Maybe she was selling these bright red balloons, ones that rebelled against the monochrome night and defied gravity, to help support her family? Maybe her dark brown eyes that worriedly darted back and forth at passerby’s betrayed an anxiousness of something watching her, observing her, using her, or making sure she sells those bright red balloons. Making sure she doesn’t float away to some faraway dream she has. Making sure the strings always stay attached.
There she was — that young brown-eyed and seemingly innocent Thai girl, with the bright red balloons struggling to flee into the sky, standing alone in the night market with a blank expression on her face. Who knows what was going through her head, what dreams she did or didn’t have, what her name was, why she was selling these red balloons, and what she wanted to be when she grew up.
But I wondered.
This photo I took is one of my all time favorite captures. I feel like it has a powerful yet unknown emotion to it, one where you wonder.
What went through your head when you saw the photo?