Hello, goodbye, again and again

Hello, goodbye, again and again

“You missed them. They left two weeks ago for their hometown in Jiangsu.”

The neighbor shivered a little in her shapeless coat while stirring a pot of boiling soup in the tiny room that she shared with her family. She shrugged when I asked for a follow up contact.

I first met the Han sisters a few months ago in the crowded thoroughfare of Old Town Shanghai (上海老城厢). It was surreal, chasing after two girls who were skipping through the alleys without a care in the world. I visited the girls every few weeks, sometimes to drop off sweets, and other times, finding a locked door.

I had given them a framed picture of their portraits as promised. I recalled when I showed up, the little one said solemnly, “I’ve been waiting for you. 1 month to be exact.”

The girls’ parents had worked in Shanghai for several years, and had only recently brought over the younger sister, Hanye for less than 6 months. The older sister Hanbo stayed behind in rural Jiangsu.

Now, it seemed that the whole family has returned home and is believed to have saved up enough money to set up a small business. Maybe Shanghai has become too expensive. Or maybe the family was just tired of being apart.

I never got to say goodbye. Such is the transience of the city.

August 2009

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8 Comments

  • Reply February 25, 2010

    Rogel

    This is simply mesmerizing image. It encapsulate all that I like in street photography.

    • Reply February 25, 2010

      Sue Anne

      Thanks Rogel. So nice of you to stop by! This is one of my fav photographs. I recalled your suggested improvements on Flickr, but stuck to the original. :)

  • Reply February 25, 2010

    Rogel

    Hi,
    I do remember my suggestion, and I noticed that you didn’t follow it :) I still love this picture very much.
    I noticed, by the way, that comment do not appear here – I think that you need to approve them in the admin section.

    • Reply February 25, 2010

      Sue Anne

      It has been approved. I only got to it this morning. But once you leave a comment the first time, any following comments will be automatically posted on the blog. See you on Flickr.

  • Reply February 25, 2010

    Adam Minter

    I’m so glad that you’re putting these images, and these stories, out there, Sue Anne. One of your best.

    • Reply February 25, 2010

      Sue Anne

      Most kind of you to tweet it, Adam. See you soon!

  • Reply January 21, 2011

    Chris

    Unfortunately the link to “Han sisters” is disabled, I would have loved to see that portrait you gave them- nice teasing effect to see them only from the back, but the deliverance should be at the end of the alley…

    • Reply January 22, 2011

      Sue Anne

      Thanks Chris. The links were automatically changed when I shifted servers, so I’m trying to rectify all of them. The link you are looking for is here. “The Han sisters“. It is the exact photo I gave them in a lovely frame.

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