A haunting of memories, vivid images that stay ingrained. The eyes preserve the fleeting. Forever am I tormented by the images I fail to capture. I visualize them often and wonder why I didn’t lift up a camera to see with me.
I’m reminded of this at a stoplight, finding a faded blue buick to my right. The driver aged, balding like Magoo, with a pipe between his lips. He makes me smile, and I curse myself for not having my camera as the light changes.
But this pales to comparison to my failures in India. At the time, I was no lover of light, no intruder upon persons asking them to bare whats within them to me. Two years ago, I was fond of things, pretty things, dead things, forgotten things. I remember waiting for people to get out of my frame in India! Absurd of me! Not that I didn’t want to know them, but I was ill equipped to see, to feel through the eyes, and in my discovery of a stranger would I not have to bare a part of me in turn? Always the silent one in the corner at first, take no notice of me, please pass by and avert the eyes. No see me. The origins of images lost.
I think of the woman of Amritsar, infant so still upon thinning threads. She haunts me, and I wish I could show her to others. Those dark coal eyes, hallowed face, frail frame, bones dressed in unclean skin. Yes, she is an image that makes the spine quiver, nerve trauma to the senses. Even the hair on arms will rise up to take view. But she is in my mind, no more can she speak to others than she literally did to me.
But before her were so many others. On the bumpy ride to the border, we’d passed miles of open land, scattered trees, and Tata trucks. In a brief fifteen seconds, the taxi drove past several Indian men to the side of the road. Shirtless and covered in mud, they all grasped onto the same shovel, swaying in seesaw motion trying to dig into the water saturated earth. I wanted to to scream stop in Hindi and dart across traffic just to stoop low and snap a photograph of these men muddied, sweating, laboring with one shovel, all their hands united in the same momentary plight in the middle of nowhere in India. I found that moment so filled of life, struggle, beauty, dirty yet pure.
Never did I capture Meena scrubbing tin plates. Children, bare bottomed, squatting on a ledge twenty feet above a stream to relieve themselves. The same waters I surely thought were pumped into pails five minutes away. The Tibetan man with gentle eyes I chatted with twice. An elephant, painted with red markings, walking down the Mcleodganj driving path with its stingy owner, palm out, demanding rupees for a picture. All the vibrant saris, dupattas in the wind. Each free moment should have been spent with my camera in hand. I failed then, and I knew. Pretty pictures hallow of meaning. Never do I want a pleasant image again, a postcard of the future in my lens’ eye. What I desire is pungent, a jostle, a trauma to the senses, whether it result in elation, distress, fear, tears, laughter, I want the product to arise from the deep of being, to connect viewer to a world of raw feeling, not just a flattened dimensional perception of the world.
I’m getting there…so long is this journey, patience for a moment constantly a struggle to obtain. The imaginary walls, deterrents that kept me in my place of comfort for so long are cracking. Let it be breached so that I can become the seeker of life I know to be in me.