I was recently on a short vacation to Chennai visiting my maternal grandmother. As I sat rummaging through an old brown box lying in the attic of her home, I came across an old monochrome photograph. Despite the fading and the curled edges, I could distinctly make out the picture. It had a little girl, not more than 10 years old, dressed in the traditional attire, with layers of jewels. What struck me was the deep frown on her beautiful little face. It seemed to have been clicked in an open field. A wooden bench seated the girl in the backdrop of a majestic house.
“Who is this paati?” I asked my 85 something granny. Squinting her eye, she gave just one look. “That is me in our Chengalpet home. What a day it was. I still remember it. It was Mazhgazhi maasam (the Tamil month which falls mid Dec to mid Jan), and there was a cool breeze at most times of the day. There was a swing my Appa had made behind the house, tied to the Jackfruit tree. I loved spending time there, playing. That day Appa had called the photographer so that the entire family could be clicked. And the day seemed to be a mini festival for the family. I remember all the ladies getting dressed up in their best saris, powdered faces, and braided hair with fresh Jasmine flowers. Ram Anna (Anna is elder brother in Tamil) wore his newly tailored black coat and dhoti. But how I hated being dressed up. Those were the days, we were scared of Appa. Not like you youngsters. We could never say a no”. She paused for a while. Hmmm I thought, so that explains the frown on the face.
But what surprised me was despite granny’s fading memory; she remembered such minute details about the photograph. A photo not so clear in its truest sense bought back memories crystal clear in her mind. I insisted on clicking her photograph again on that day with my brand new Nokia 1520 with its 20 megapixel camera. I showed the saved snap to her. She didn’t react much but just told me to give her a printed copy to preserve it in her brown box. “Now that’s not difficult granny, I will soon take a print out and give it to you”, I promised her. During the course of my vacation, I clicked oodles of snaps on my smart phone, every possible angle with cousins, selfies and other random shots.
A week passed by and I was back in Delhi, and back to office with the usual rut of life. Having set up an auto back up option, my photos were transferred to my computer. It lay within a folder tucked away in the hard disk of my computer. And that was it. The print out I had promised granny never happened.
In our world of smart gadgets, with all things happening in a jiffy, are we somewhere forgetting a human element? May be that emotional and personal touch?
Granny had no retakes in her times. The essence and mood of the moment was captured. She had just one copy, stacked away neatly in a brown box. But it stayed alive in her memory for years. In today’s times, when retakes are taken for granted, we click away, till we capture the mood we want. We also have a problem of too many. With multiple clicks, sometimes on multiple gadgets, we fail to live the moment, and fail to preserve the moment in its truest sense. Our clicks are limitless.
For granny, a single click in her life was valued for a lifetime. For us, there are numerous clicks…. but how many do we actually value? I wonder.
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