I immediately felt the pull the instant I saw this girl–there was something photographically very strongly attractive about this girl. She was there kind of getting some tidbits of beauty treatment (perhaps a mehendi design on both of her palms) outside the Dilli Haat, INA one January night this year. I did not have the big enough ball to photograph a girl at that close range, but still I kept around and hung around there, quite unsure ifI would do it. I moved quite away 😊, and in the dark circle of a lamp post removed my camera from the bag and trained it at her casually, waiting to feel courage filling up my empty chest. It was too far for the light she was in and for the kind of result I wanted. I took a couple of shots as I walked in, fearing the would notice me making her conscious and do something to make pgotographing her impossible. I had waited for a better view but the woman counting cash before her remained there and I had not a better view from around where I stood.
Once I am squinting at the viewfinder, I don’t know where it comes I am all the devillish courage to photograph anything in my field of vision. So I found myself walking in closer but still without pressing the shutter button, waiting for a better view. Then the girl moved and she looked into my eyes through the darkness in the lens barrel. I was not intimidated but somehow my instinct failed me to press the button at that moment, maybe because she was not in so good a pose as she was a moment ago. A perfectionist, and she cruel. The immediately next moment, she turned away toward her lady and her neck remained stiffly in that position and never moved. I got no more chance.
This scene was full of interesting contradictions–sings of death and signs of new life, sunlight and smog, ashes and new leaves. The burnt ground still bore the traces of the ashes and many lifeless grasses still kept clinging to it as if it would give them their life back. The bare lifeless tree stood in the middle of the black and yellow ground under the inhospitable smoggy sky, and it rather looked like a twisted and knotty stump hit into the ground as part of a camouflage manoeuvre. As if magically, a few grasses were sprouting up from under the black and yellow earth. The scarce bushes and the only green tree on the background gave this landscape at least some semblance of life.
Did a whiff just drift past the rock?
A faint life drenched in the grainy past ghosting around?
A swell of faded memory rolling over under the dark?
A forgotten smell reminding of ancient familiarity?
The footsteps clatter fainter down the lazy steps
winding down the rocky hill in the moon
with the rustle of a hand rubbing
against the rough walls hewn off the hill,
so clear like the night contains nothing else.
Sometimes at nights
slow whiffs would wax and wane,
and the rock in the hilltop wind
would soften to the contents of the night.
In a slow response to the pull of silence
the dusts of sound have settled down
to the abandoned life spread across the floor–
preserved in layers the creases of pains
painted in fragile smiles for the show,
spirals of despair deyed spry for the show.
Slowly the dusts of life have settled
on the photographs of dead people
and people memory has let go of,
those blurry visitors in grainy dreams
you have once or twice in a lifetime
gathered from a long forgotten past,
part of the mistakes you made in learning life.
But a bearded storm keeps coming with a broom
dragging along his cart of dusts and photographs
when the sun is low to the snow free of all dust.
After or before the dark? You never know.
A room dark with full of forgets;
forgotten memories flirtatiously
weave with reluctant memories
eloquent geological patterns
of nuanced shades of darkness–
each line, curve and muffled shine
heaving slowly in quiet breath.
Unsure whether or not to
listen to soundless voices from the past
knocking repeatedly at the door,
watch the future slipping in
through the chinks under the doors,
a formless body rolls in the bed,
spilling memories into the folds of the clothes,
getting smeared with unwashed memories off the clothes,
and the caged mind rattling all
the fragile memories in the dark.
Who would have thought
memories leave footprints so heavy
and it’s not just matter that weighs?