Images make us believe that everything visible to us in this world can be captured and kept safely with ourselves, away from the destructive cycle of life and death. We keep falling back on these images in an attempt to keep time from marching forth without us, which it does quite often. Photography as an art, captures moments in time, relieving us of the crippling burden of memory.
For Rishi Raj, a photographer hailing from Patna, it has absolved him of the guilt of not being able to spend much time with his Dadaji, whom he was very close to. His grandfather passed away when he was about 13 years old, a few years after which he had moved to Bangalore to pursue a degree in Fashion Communications from NIFT. Since there was not much access to the camera during his childhood, he regrets not being able to take too many photographs of his grandfather whom he misses deeply. At the moment, he is living with his extended family at Navi Mumbai and spending as much time as he can with his octogenarian grandmother. In order to evade a similar feeling of regret at not being able to keep memories of her with himself, Rishi has made use of his time in quarantine to capture some beautiful photographs of his grandmother at various moments of the day.
In an interview with Homegrown, Rishi recounts how his dadi would hug him and kiss his forehead every time he visited her. He says, “It’s funny how she pulls my head down to her lips because I am so tall. You should see it; it’s actually very funny.” He goes on, “ When I was due to go to college, I remember how she hugged me and didn’t want to let go. The 17-year-old overly excited kid in me didn’t really realise how emotional that moment was until a few years later when I started living in a new city, away from family.”
He also recounts the winter afternoons when his dadi would give him a relaxing head massage after he came back from school, after which he would fall asleep on her bed. These memories never left him, and he did not want to let go of the opportunity to give it shape. His photographs tell us stories of the mundane realities that surround life. The frames have been captured with a quick reflex and might seem quotidian in their content. However, that is precisely the point behind these photographs.
Idiosyncrasies captured in acts of spontaneity define a human being. Little things—the faint wrinkle behind their smile, the subtle tremble of their hands or the funny burst of laughter—essentially make our beloveds themselves. These are also things we miss the most about them. Rishi has tried to incorporate all those little details about his grandmother in his photo story. It is an ode to our ancestors who have withstood the ravages of time, and lived on within us, long after they are no more physically present.
Rishi’s project is a photo story in monochrome, easing you into life within the four walls in a way that evokes memory and nostalgia. A perfect instance of candid photography, it is an ode to a loved one, a bold attempt at capturing time and the ever inglorious sense of an ending.
Like a gently ferocious reminder of time and reality, it walks us through the anticipation of loss that will eventually befall every human bond. In that, it transcends specificity and becomes universal.
This photo story is a Homegrown Original Series.
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