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ᝰ THE STORY
Evi, an 18-year-old girl originating from Java island, is seen wearing a blue karembong—a traditional headscarf worn by Sundanese women either around their heads or necks depending on the social situation—which seems to perfectly match her incredible blue eyes, a genetic feature extremely rare among Austronesian peoples.
I spent two days in Evi's village to better understand the story behind such eyes and gather the family's anecdotes. She inherited this color from her maternal grandmother. The family’s story went on to say that by the time Evi's great-grandmother was pregnant with her grandmother, Evi’s great-grandmother crossed a period where she was craving grilled fish, yet those fish turned out to only be half-cooked. “Their eyes looked somewhat alive!”, the grandmother recalled. It was to the very surprise of the whole family that when Evi’s great-grandmother gave birth to Evi’s grandmother, her eyes were blue like the ocean. The entire family considered this event a real miracle because none of the family’s ancestors had had blue eyes before.
The gene has since been perpetuated to the third generation where Evi is the youngest of three other siblings. Each has inherited the same blue eyes and traits of her typical face.
Evi leads a simple lifestyle where she cooks at home every day or sometimes follows her mother to the nearby traditional market to help her sell vegetables. Although Evi is of a quiet nature, one cannot help but instantly spot her natural grace. A mere glimpse at her blue eyes shakes our souls as if we were suddenly sunk and lost in the infinite immensity of a deep ocean.
Having lived in this country since 2015, this encounter is to me one in a million, which undoubtedly makes it a very special and unique photograph.
The behind-the-scenes video with Evi shared on social media caused a stir in the country as soon as it was shared. The video was reposted by leading Indonesian media, generating interest among the general public where over 15 million people watched the clip on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.
📍Garut, West Java 🗓 2022