The vulture that waited for the child to die

Given below is the 1994 Pulitzer price-winning photograph taken by Kevin Carter during the Sudan famine of 1994.

The photo shows a famine-stricken child crawling towards a United Nations food camp, which was located at least one kilometer away from the place shown. The vulture on the other hand is waiting eagerly for the child to die so that it can devour it.

I do not know what message the photograph revokes on your head but every time I look at it I feel blessed that I have been provided enough at least to satisfy my hungry stomach and keep me energetic enough to write blogs. I feel small and humble when I think of all the people suffering out there— homeless and starved— yet trying their best to make some sense of the complex notion known as life. It tells me that I have been blessed for a reason, for a purpose, and whatever I have been provided with should not go in vain. I can infer that my powers should be used well, at least for that little kid on the above photograph for whom Fate had sealed a quicksand of reality too hard to acknowledge for many of us hedonists out here.

Most importantly, to me the photograph conveys an emotion; a reality that many of us are too blind to grasp. I think of how people throughout the world are suffering to no ends yet amidst everything trying again and again to find the silver lining associated with the black cloud. I realize that there is a lot happening outside my comfortable apartment and Biology textbook that needs looking after, that there is a lot of people who strive hard yet achieve nothing in return. It amazes me when I try to ponder God’s sense of justice and egalitarianism.

So is it okay for the blessed 25% of the population in this world to waste everything that life has given them while the the rest 75% live amidst severe poverty, oppression and inequality?Is it okay to go overboard with New Year parties while exactly at the same hour millions of people across the globe are suffering from the fangs of social deprivation? Is it okay to let things be as it they are and forget about everything so as to harmoniously embrace useless ambitions and lustful desires?

Have we all truly forgotten to share our wealth and about the latent human being that exists inside everyone of us? Have we truly gottten rid of all those emotions that make us human beings? Is this what the world is for: for some to live lavishly while for the rest to suffer endlessly?

Three months after he took the photograph Kevin Carter, after suffering from several periods of depression, committed suicide.

Dated on the day the photo was taken, the following note was found from his diary:

Dear God, I promise I will never waste my food no matter how bad it can taste and how full I may be. I pray that He will protect this little boy, guide and deliver him away from his misery. I pray that we will be more sensitive towards the world around us and not be blinded by our own selfish nature and interests. I hope this picture will always serve as a reminder to us that how fortunate we are and that we must never ever take things for granted.

As for the child, no one really knows what happened to him; not even the South African photographer who had left the place immediately after the photo was taken. I try to appease myself by saying that the child never existed in the first place. God simply intended to provide us with a glimpse of the truth of life, to remind us how blessed we are. I hope this is true.

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6 comments on “The vulture that waited for the child to die

  1. This is such a powerful piece. I would love to republish it on LfD. Do you want to drop me an email – fullname AT gmail DOT com – and I will give you the details of what I had in mind! Take care, carry on writing, Paul

  2. Pingback: Reaching out across nations. « Learning from Dogs

  3. Kevin Carter never left that note. He didn’t even bother to help the child, who was actually a girl, contrary to your info, by shooing away the vulture. But the girl got safely to the camp she was traveling to.

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