Growing Up Runi


When I was a child I found it easier to talk to the grownups or slip away with a book instead of trying to make friends with anyone my age. It did not get easier to make friends as I grew up. When I was 12 my mother, siblings, and I moved to Newport, New York, a small, rural, tight-knit community that was not receptive to newcomers.                 

It was not until the summer I turned 19 that I became friends with a child, Aruna, or Runi as her friends call her, who was five at the time. After half-days of preschool, she would come home and distract me from my work with rhyming games and adventures into the wilderness behind her home. I began to photograph her, and the life around her, as I tried to figure out why this child was so dear to me.           

Runi is now eight. She beats me in rummy every time we play and the last time I was home she was trying to teach herself how to write in cursive. Although Runi and I are two different people with two different lives to live, I cannot help but remember the turmoil I went through fourteen years ago and notice similar changes in Runi because of some of the same situations. I see so much of myself in Runi and long to protect her from the hardships and loneliness of growing up. This project allows me to preserve the moments in Runi’s life that might otherwise go forgotten.