Two Years Worth a Lifetime

4 January 2017. After I had avoided humans, particularly those who are by default called friends in every sphere of my life for a very long time, Preety Jankeepersand and I met, had tea and paratha at Brahmaputra and walked for long in many secluded areas in the JNU campus. Preety, a kind and self-conscious girl from Mauritius,  has been a friend of mine who has been helping me when and where no other person would actually give a damn. Most friendships demand mutual investment and that reciprocity needs to be simultaneous lest the friendship expires. Preety has proved a different person–in her characteristic combination of quiet and frankness, and affection and aloofness, she would repeatedly and patiently get through my silent irresponsive solitude and do a few things to help me (calling me sometimes, writing to me often with some important information I need to act on) before she leaves quietly. She knew without somebody helping me I would not do certain things despite the consequences. Not many people would be so generous as her at least to a person like me–so aloof, so unpenetrably silent and incommunicable. I would ever remain indebted to her. So happily.

That afternoon we talked about a lot of things. Life in general. Plans for future–what we wanted to do in life, after the linguistic course. I had my camera with me too–I told her I wanted to take a few photographs of her. To remember her by. The easier way.

I had photographed her before too. This evening was calmer and quieter and we were more relaxed. But unfortunately, when we arrived at this particular place–a beautiful one, one we would unlikely visit on any other day–the sun had already set and I had to turn the ISO up and lower the shutter speed. Far beyond I would normally go for. (We did not plan to come here–some beautiful peacocks attracted our attention and we followed a couple of them which we saw and we ended up here.)

Though I wished we got to this place earlier, she was so cool and beautiful in her blue shirt and jeans in that twilight. We agreed we would come to this place again. Earlier. We have not yet gone there again.

I took six or seven photographs there. She was calmly beautiful in all of them. In her quiet and cute beaming beauty. Now the course has ended and she will go back to her country and I will muddle through following my dream. In difficulty. The time has come for me to publish the few photographs I have taken of her. Here are two of them. Up above.  I will add the other photographs too here. And various versions of the same photographs too.

I will remember this friend of mine. Ever in my life. Clearly. Without a cloud.

Little Friends

Walking through the junk yard back from the Hero servicing center toward Delhi Cantt Railway Station (2 January), we followed the direction of a man’s pointing finger by walking into an area housing a big cluster of houses. It was immediately obvious to our eyes that the people were in an abject condition.

But just a few steps into the neighborhood, I saw a sweet view–a boy was ill and he was lying in a cloth bed on the damp (all about it was wet) ground between two rag houses–his blanketed body in the sun and his head in the shade of a house, and he was surrounded by five friends. They boys were all dirty and their noses were, to be euphemistic, runny and one of the boys had the milkish paste from his nose smudged off toward his one cheek. They did not see the dirt surrounding them. What they did was to be with the ill friend, surrounding him from all directions. That was true friendship I have never seen after I had lost a childhood friend who died in his childhood (he vomited blood and we did not know what he was suffering from).

While I wanted to take a snapshot of those children in the way how they were, we walked on past them–I remained diffident and feared if I hurt their emotion, at least of anybody in the neighborhood (be it their parents), if they felt being treated as an object or subject. Then a man on a broken stool, whom we had walked past, called on to me requesting me to take a snapshot of the ill boy. I was glad and immediately I returned to the position I saw the friendship from and pointed the camera to them. Two boys immediately posed with their ill friend, hugging each other. That was cute. Two children, embarrassed, got to their feet and became an onlooker, and a boy nearest to the camera remained where he was, without reacting to the situation much visibly–an odd combination of defiance and vulnerability. This was the shot:

That is colorful. That is the color of their life. And look at the hearty smile of the middle boy, and that of the ill one. That is of pure joy, yet unsoiled by the complexities of life. And the boy on the left is cute, all his dirtiness adding to it.

While color shows the color of their life, I want to watch their actions, their friendship, extracted from the colors which can be regarded as extraneous in one way. I want to see them in grayscale, like this:

There is the simple beauty of the three boys’ friendship in the context provided by the larger scope within the frames. Yet, a tighter framing may be more eloquent:

The hands of the invisible boy takes care of the excluded part of the context. And this one is just three of them:

If they see these pictures when they are old, I think they would miss these innocent days. I don’t know how ever they would see these pictures. Some old pictures can mend broken friendships and families. I am not ambitious, and I don’t have utilitarian aims in photographing people, but I am deeply touched by these children and their love for each other. Such is very rarely seen, if it happens at all among us who live under roofs inside our own houses.

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