Alcina, José Maria's wife

This picture shows Alcina, José Maria's second wife, and two of their grandchildren. For most of the period of my fieldwork the two children lived in their grandparents' house, helping with tasks. They moved there because their father, in a drunken stupor, threw a kerosene lamp at the thatch roofing. It went up in flames in minutes- not much was rescued and no one was injured. The family moved to the wife's parents, i.e. Alcina and José Maria, and built a new house nearby.

Look at this picture carefully. What do you see? Compare the faces of its three protagonists. I feel unnerved by them. Alcina's directness is both strong and inquisitive. She has quite a presence. She wanted me to take the photo, but she is not smiling. I look at this photo now and imagine that she is watching me, peering down the lens of the camera/computer in the hope of understanding more about my own life, as well as protecting hers.