Our first day of shooting started with a visit with a story book Ugandan family. Neatly trimmed gardens intertwined between well tended huts nestled on a jungled hill side. The family was gracious and warm and it looked to be the beginnings of a magical week. Just before we left however, the oldest boy requested a picture with his father. We navigated the clay path through the thick tropical foliage to the spot where his father had been resting for the past year. He knelt down by the headstone and smiled a smile that was slightly tinged. I was overwhelmed.
As we stood quietly his siblings came in behind us and began cleaning the graves. Kneeling in the dirt they worked intently . The giggles and laughter of the morning were gone. I pointed “who is this one?” He replied “my sister.” And this one?” “My brother.” I continued to point at all of the eight mounds, “my brother’s son, my other sister.” The list went on.
It is strange to be a 35 year old man standing next to a 13 year old that knows more about the ultimate reality of this life than I do. In terms of grasping mortality he is my elder. His fresh optimistic face hides memories that I can only imagine. The feverish crying of a sister, the worried, reddened eyes of a mother, another walk down the clay path, shovel in hand.
This is Uganda. A warm beauty blanketing a deep sorrow. An immeasurable resilience, a capacity for joy in the most difficult of realities.