The Photograph

What a dismal start to the year! Half of 2020 went by in the blink of an eye as we shut ourselves from the world outside and confined ourselves in our homes. So much was happening and yet life had come to a standstill. The fast and furious lifestyle that left us breathless and exhausted came to a sudden halt. I had been planning to organise my albums and photographs. It's been a week since I thought about it but got down to actually doing it NOW. As I opened the small black box under my bed, I found old letters, cards, photos and a lot of things that made me wonder why they were really inside the box! I kept the photos out and closed the box. Next came a small red coloured box which had all my albums with photos right from my childhood to my college days, marriage, foreign trip and even those of my kids! As I opened each album and saw the photographs, I was walking down memory lane, vividly remembering how each photo was taken. Those days we didn't have digital cameras, so every click was precious- properly planned and posed for, the camera was given to the best photographer around and then till the prints came out you were dying of suspense! Every damaged photo meant money and precious memory lost!!! There it was! The photograph I had been looking for and thinking about ever since I thought about for a while now.... He was working and I was studying. We weren't in the same city though. He visited me at the university enroute to his hometown from his place of work. Since he was travelling by train, we had decided to meet. He wanted to surprise me but better sense prevailed because this wasn't a city he was familiar with. He got off the train in the morning and we met in the university. That's when he clicked that photograph. A candid shot which caught me unawares. I'm not photogenic, so I can only hope that it comes out well! We enjoyed a ferry ride, had lunch and then, hand in hand, we just walked around the city. There are many colonial era buildings in this part of the city which exude an old-worldly charm and take you back in time. Perfect for history buffs like us! Time seems to stop at such places, isn't it? As it got darker, we walked towards the beach and sat down on the sand, watching the waves in silence, till he said,"I think it's time for the connecting train... Let's get going..." Luckily the station wasn't too far. So, with heavy hearts and a hug, we bid adieu. The imprint of that last kiss on my forehead remained with me, as did a hint of the perfume he wore.... My eyes teared up as images became blurry. I wiped my tears with my handkerchief and cleaned my glasses. It was time to catch the train back to my hostel. We made no promises to meet because we don't believe in planning too much... He is always moving. So, whenever we get the chance, we just take it! After all, life is all about taking chances! I took my chances with him, knowing fully well that it would be a long distance relationship and we would not be able to meet for months or maybe years! Since I was still studying, my travelling (to meet him) was out of question! The next few days brought in the much awaited letter from him. He isn't really a letter person; he calls often though. I write letters; a letter a day! Yes, every single day! I opened the envelope and smiled. He sent me a copy of the photograph he had clicked. The candid shot had come out pretty well! Thank God! When we got married, he gave me a beautiful surprise - he made a sketch of the photograph he had clicked! I was touched... We got it framed and it occupies a prominent place of display in our home.... I have been hoping that he sketches more... It's not just one photograph, it's a lot of beautiful memories.... Memorable moments with loved ones.... Wonderful times spent in a beautiful place.... Memories of childhood, of youth, of being loved ... Memories to cherish.... It's not just a photograph, it's a magical portal that instantly takes you to a whole world that exists inside of you.... I closed the magical box of beautiful memories and came back to the present reality, happy after my nostalgic trip down memory lane..... A welcome respite!

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