Vultures in the Frame

by Anantinee Mishra

PC: Kevin Carter; Source:


Sometimes, as I look at the vividly gripping photograph, my perplexity blends into desolation; inching from familiar sympathy to uncharted anguish.

When Kevin Carter captured the Pulitzer-winning imagery of a child and a vulture under the cruel sun of Sudan; did he realise the turbulent existence that was the essence of his masterpiece, would be a haunting reminder of the darker side of humanity? Did he, in the glory of his artistic, panther-like swiftness, contemplate the repercussions of the portrait he had commissioned to his camera roll eternally?

Sometimes, as I look at the photograph, I can feel the shift in perspectives; as jarring and memorable as a fast ride on a Ferris wheel.

The vulture, as it patiently waited for the death of the child who did not possess enough strength in his limbs to take him to a food distribution center. Could it feel the presence of Thanatos in the air; the crushing sense of misery and doom that we only associate with death? Or had it been a usual sight, from the heights of a depraved and torn Sudan?

The child, as he- or she, as she was believed then -lay on the ground, awaiting angels to press their blessed hands on his trembling body and take the pain away. Could he taste the dirt and debris from where his parched lips kissed the ground? Could he feel the hunger in his bones, for those were all that was left in that body? Could he sense the presence of the scavenger behind him, or had he been blissfully numb?

The photographer, as he had waited in the shadows. Had he been struck by a sense of helplessness as the scene unfolded before him, or had he been hardened by the years of starving children and rotting corpses across Africa? Had he felt voyeuristic; an intruder between the child and the vulture? Had he felt a glimmer of remorse, or had conscience not survived the blazing fires of poverty?

Sometimes, I understand the vulture and its quiet acceptance.

Sometimes, I understand the child and the exhaustion he carries as he sinks into the ground.

Sometimes, I understand Carter and his helplessness and inability to do anything other than watch the scene unfold too.

Kevin Carter took his own life, three months after winning the prize.

Sometimes, I understand that too.

About the Author:

Anantinee ‘JHUMPA’ Mishra is a prodigy author, poet, and TED speaker. She is twelve years old studying in std.8th at Apeejay School, Saket, New Delhi.  She has published two books and many stories and articles in magazines and journals. At the age of ten, she published a 21,000 worded anthology of stories called ‘Treasure of Short Stories’. Last year her debut Novel ‘Manhattan to Munnar’ got released. Recently she has been conferred with the title ‘PRODIGY AUTHOR’ and an ‘HONORARY DIPLOMA’ by the Hon’ble Vice President of  India Sh. M Venkaiah Naidu.

One Comment

  1. Painful 😖😣 after seeing this picture …nice keep it up