Snapshots With a Backstory:
Nobody, except the hard-working, determined workers, knew how awful the working and living conditions for the working class was. I had to show the world how it really was to be a labourer in the awful working fabrics where the walls were black with soot, and there was barely any light, and workers worked on line for hours and hours non-stop, and it smelled bad odour and old sweat as if sulfur had just been released into the horror scenes of the manufactories. I had to create empathy about the workers working in factories to the outside world. The outside world where everyone ate three meals a day and had clean bathrooms with a sink, a proper toilet, and even a shower or bathtub. I would spread this empathy through photography. Snapshots of how people worked and lived. Snapshots of how the cramped rooms where people slept on busted madras’s looked like. I would create an atmosphere through these photos that would make a person cry of forgiveness when seen. But it was a risk. I would stand up against the richest people in the world. People with more power than the government. People that could get out of anything through their wealthiness and power. People that thrown money out of their widow. But the sun shone on me and God told me “yes”. God was on my side and that gave me the signal to start. First stop, New York City, one of the most industrialized cities in the world, and one of the places where labourers were treated the worst. I knew it was a risk, and my life stood on play, but it was for change, a good change, a golden change!
The Potato Power:
It was June and it wasn’t long before our potatoes would be harvested. Our whole years food supply lay in these golden potatoes and if things didn’t go as planned and our potatoes were to be destroyed by the time of the harvest, everything would be done. The sun was shining as a tall sunflower high up in the sky. It was very warm; about 30 degrees Celsius. I felt like I had three coats on top of me, although the only clothes I possessed were two pair of trousers, and three shirts.
My Da was out sailing in the open sea. He had been there for about three weeks now. No one had any clue about where he was, but the sea was going to take him home safely. My mam was dead so it was me, Nory is my name, my sisters, and my Granda who takes care of the farm when our Da is out in in the open sea. Our farm only consists of our 30 acre potato crops and our little hut where we live. We do not have any animals at our farm, except three chickens who lay the most beautiful eggs that are velvety and bright in colour, something that makes them just so attractive. My family cannot afford for us children to go to school so we spend our day home either helping with the farm or just playing among ourselves or with neighbours and friends. Playing with my best friend Sean is one of my favourite things to do. We will go down to the blue and never ending sea where we will sit by the sea shore and see the sun rising above the horizon like an angel coming to earth.
Da is a fisher and almost all the fish he catches, he sells and the money is used to pay for our rent to Lord Cunningham. Lord Cunningham is an awful person. He had kicked out so many of my good old friends, because they couldn’t pay for their rent. Most of the rent he put on us was over the reaching for us. We couldn’t possibly reach for that amount of money. Many of them were probably in Australia now, the land of the harmful and evil. I can’t imaginon how Lord Cunningham hadn’t ended up in Australia. He would fit perfectly in that gruesome environment.
“Granda, Lord Cunningham had told me yesterday that a bacteria is killing all the potato crops a few miles away from here. Maybe it’s the sidhe who has reached out with his long fingers,” I said.
“Oh yeah, I’ve heard,” Granda replied, and he was shivering a bit. The potatoes meant everything to us.
“I just hope the bacteria doesn’t affect us.”
“We’ll just have to cross our fingers, my darling.” Granda could comfort anybody in hard situations, and it was especially important to have a person like this in these living conditions.
It was late and it was time to go to bed. Our little house, or hut I should say, was cramped like a chicken house. There were too many people sleeping in the same house. I slept in a bed with one of my older sisters and my younger brother. From my sleeping spot, I could see the big bright full-moon shining like a round, big cheese on display.
The next morning, I woke up from someone, a human yelling as a rooster. I didn’t know who it was, but I could smell something weird. It was the smell of plants dying. I thought I knew what this meant; it was the bacteria heading for us. I ran over to my best friend Sean’s house to warn him. He was already awake and when I stepped into his house, the whole family was quiet. Even Sean’s youngest brother who was five years old was sitting on his bed quietly.
“The bacteria has come for us,” Sean said. Then I knew. I looked outside and saw plenty of rotten plants. The first thing that came to my mind was to run home and tell Granda. I ran as fast as I never had done before. I felt like a bird flying through the sky. My desire to get home fast had given me wings. When I got home, I told Granda what had happened to Sean’s crops. He hurried outside and took a look at our own crops. They were just as fine as before, but Sean’s crops were just on the other side of the fence and it wouldn’t take long before the bacteria reached us. I remembered what Sean’s Grandma had once said “Without potatoes we will starve to death.” I knew how severe loosing our potatoes would be.
Weeks passed and nothing happened to our potatoes, but we were always nervous. The fear of loosing our potatoes had come on our nerves. The day came when harvesting was to be done. Our potatoes were in top form and looked like silk in the reflection of the sun. It was a happy day for us, but a sad one for Sean and his family. We would have food for the rest of the year, but Sean, I did not know what would happen to. I wished we could help, but there was barely enough food to feed all the mouths in our own household. How I wanted to travel to the USA where everything was so much better, and everyone had three meals and clean toilets. I would want to take our whole village there and live the best life we would ever imagine. How I wished for something better.
The American “Dream”:
I woke up at 3:45 in the morning. It was so chilly and freezing in the city of Brooklyn where we lived, and it felt as if I was on the north pole. The coldness was just sticking to my body like honey does after you’ve gotten it on to your fingers. The only kind of clothes I had for this kind of weather was a, as much destroyed as repaired, jacket. I had once counted all the holes in my green and blue coloured jacket, but I had stopped at 55.
Then my mum called for breakfast. It wasn’t one of those good breakfasts some kids get with beans, bacon, eggs, and toast. This breakfast was eaten on our dirty floor that was supposed to be white, but was totally black, and it was composed of one quarter moldy loaf bread and if we were lucky, some butter and milk.
My family didn’t live alone. We lived with another family composed of seven people; three boys, two girls, and one mum and dad. This meant that we were 13 people all living in a harsh, not so cozy, little room. I must be honest and say that there are no windows in our cell. The floors are dirty, madrasas broken as if the puffy substance inside is shooting out as a waterfall, and there are gaps in our wall making it a scenic route for any bypassers. It’s an apartment, 5 floors high, where all the rooms are as bad as ours. There are many noises to hear. Always banging and shouting. And worst of all, our whole roof was filled with spiderwebs.
We all went for a quick “toilet”, more like a one meter deep hole in the ground, break. The hole in the ground is located behind a corner in our room and it has no door. You always have to make sure everyone in your room knows that someone is there. Sometimes people from other rooms come to use our toilet as we are one of the only rooms with a “toilet”. I was the last one to go. I was always the last one to go, because I felt I was fast as an antelope in gallop to do my business. When I get out, everyone was waiting for me to go to our enormous, hard-working, and abhorrent place.