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Sonia Ajah
·Aug 11, 2022·

4 min read

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Photography has been my dream since the first time I laid my hands on a camera. Well, it wasn’t a real one, it was the toy ones we played with as kids, the ones with the fixed images so all you had to do was click and pretend you captured it. ‘Capturing’ is the word I love. The fact that you can record a particular account of someone’s life, how they felt, expressed themselves, the smiles or burdens their eyes bore at that point in time. It made me feel like an artist of the past. Amazing!

I got myself a camera for by nineteenth birthday with a great percentage of my savings. To be honest, I was a little worried about my financial situation; I was a third year student in university studying a five years course, and university meant bills, both the necessary or unnecessary. My parents trained me through school, if that’s what you’re thinking, but my dad is a civil servant and my mom a trader, so I couldn’t indulge all demands by the meagre allowance I was given. I also had a bad habit of never asking for more even when I needed and was starving, but I seldom felt it wasn’t bad because I had younger ones at home who needed it more.

I was hustled into entrepreneurship due to my position in life and in my family. I was the donnish type so it wasn’t something I leapt at, but the average Nigerian will sound idealistic to rely on education alone in present times. I tried out different ventures before I settled on photography. I don’t want to call it settling, it is something I love doing but all I had then was a phone and an old camera I was gifted five years prior, professionally it couldn’t do much, also I lacked editing skills. I joined a studio close to my school as an apprentice, when I was satisfied with what I had learned, I then joined the best team at school for exposure. It was an opportune moment as I was able to join them for their activities, both big and small, they were even some which involved trips. When it was over a year working with them and the semester before my final year, I decided to work solo. It wasn’t going to be a big deal telling the group as most of them were graduating that year and were impliedly going their separate ways. We embarked on our last trip together, for a wedding in Port Harcourt, that was where I saw her.

Like one muses on fine art, I steadied my gaze on her. She was the perfect muse a makeup artist or photographer would love, that was the approach I intended to make. Well, that was going to be a front, I was already lost in her demeanor. I figured she was related to the bride but she was mainly attending to guests. She walked in a haste like one who knew what they wanted and ensured they got it, but you wouldn’t miss the sway of her hips complementing her slender figure. She smiled when her attention was needed, when someone introduced her to someone who would then start conversations which you could figure was uninteresting, even when a kid spilled wine on her purse. Her ideal bone structure and angles, for some reason, reminded me of a mannequin. The MC told a joke and she laughed with her head thrown aback, it was the perfect picture. I captured that.

Shortly after, she looked my way and smiled, I wanted to return one too but hers lingered on so I sensed it was something more. It obviously wasn’t for me, I guessed, but I told myself I was going to find out during the after party, at least by then most of our work would have been done. When it was time for the bouquet toss, she had a mixed expression on her face, I couldn’t tell if she wanted to catch it or not, but she did. The ladies celebrated her, and her mom, the look on her face was brighter than it had been the entire day. You’d think it made her happier than the wedding itself. I want to believe I froze on the spot because I still can’t tell how I wasn’t able to approach her before she received the call that made her leave the hall and never come back. Yes, she never came back, my eyes were on the run all night searching for her till we left.

A year later, I still wake up to her picture on the wall.

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