I asked before I took this photograph. I asked in English, not Chichewa. They nodded. But in any language, that nod was reluctant. Let the Mzungu take the photograph. I smiled and said zikomo. Thank you.
They waited. I wondered how much the platter weighed. At the volunteer house, I had tried to balance a bucket of water on my head the way I’d seen women do. I got wet.
I fumbled—I had my fancy camera and I wanted the photograph just so. I wanted to improve my photography skills. They waited.
Hurry, hurry, I said to myself.
I slid the dial to autofocus.
Mzungu someone behind me called. Foreigner. White Person. Rich person. Not said with anger. Not said with curiosity. Not even said with resignation. Said with a murmur. A fact.
Shame, shame, I felt. I snapped.