This photo of Florence Owens Thompson and her children was taken in February or March of 1936 in Nipomo, California. In addition to being an iconic photo of the Great Depression, it influenced Steinbeck in his writing of The Grapes of Wrath. Date: 1936. Photographer: Dorothea Lange.
The face I will never forget
Story by Peter Yelland
Edited by N.A.Martin
‘There is no photograph of a face indelibly entrenched in my mind forever.
I was on an assignment in India and was travelling by taxi through a dusty intersection in Delhi.
We travelled this same route everyday, but it was today that I first noticed her.
On the side of the road under a sheet of corrugated iron, lived a family of four.
Mum, dad, boy, and baby.
Mum’s job was to approach the cars and ask for money with hands stretched out.
Her face was pleading.
The taxi driver said-
“No don’t give money, it encourages begging”
–So I refrained
Each day, I saw the same beautiful, expressive eyes looking straight into my own, pained to the core.
One morning, the chef in the hotel within which I was staying, cooked me a fresh date loaf to take with me to work.
It was still warm and wrapped in foil.
We drove past the intersection in our usual fashion, and again, her eyes made contact with mine.
Sheepishly, she came to my window and I handed her the freshly baked date loaf, still warm to touch.
The devastatingly raw human beauty expressed in her eyes, in that single moment, will stay with me forever.
At that dusty intersection, on an ordinary day, I felt to the core of me, her heartfelt gratitude.
Gratitude that came from a place of deep human suffering.
Suffering that doesn’t even have a name, in my world.
As tears ran down her cheeks, she held the warm date loaf to her chest, the lights changed and we drove off to my comfortable destination.
I am blessed to be born in a country where freedom is possible and extreme poverty is rare
I promise to live my days with this thought in mind
creating daily space for gratitude
and sparing a thought for those who were
in the distribution of a privileged life.