He didn’t let anyone tell me about it when they visited me in hospital for he knew it would spoil the effect. It was waiting for me in the living room sofa as I entered my home after a four day recovery from Dengue fever. I felt like I had stepped into a machine and travelled twenty four years back in time. In front of me was a photograph so beautiful, haunting and personal that it took my breath away.
The photograph had been taken by none other than Sunil Gupta (www.sunilgupta.net ) and it had a twenty five year old man sitting on a bench in a cold winter afternoon at the central park at Connaught place. The photographer had captured the bench in perfect symmetry which gave the scene a three dimensional feel. The boy was sitting in tracksuit top, tight jeans flared at the boot and low heeled boots. A mop of curly hair and thin moustache adorned his intense intelligent face. His profile showed angst, passion, confusion and all that one usually experiences at the juncture when one steps into adulthood and makes choices that determine one’s life. In contrast there were two Caucasian girls lying on the grass at a distance without a care in the world and three older men slouching in the sun gazing into the horizon. At the forefront was a barren tree with its limbs stretching out and in the background the sky was a clear blue with a spattering of white clouds. One can almost smell the slight Delhi fog in the air when one looks at the photograph and one can imagine the smell of roasted peanuts and sweet potatoes emanating from the vendors standing in the park.
The young man in the photograph is my brother who was asked to pose twenty four years ago, in the year 1986. He had just finished his engineering and was going through the motions of working in a job he found rather boring. He had heard through mutual friends that his photograph had become famous, had featured in a book and had been exhibited in London. Being the relaxed, unassuming and non vain individual that he is, he never tried to seek the photograph. He heard that his friend in Washington, a Jewish professor, had recognized him when he saw it exhibited in London and had bought the photograph for a large amount of money.
What my brother did not know was that the person who had introduced him to Sunil had insisted on a copy to be made for him. He had since then shifted his base to Lucknow and had carefully kept the piece of art wrapped in his attic. Little did my brother know when he decided to go to Lucknow to meet his friend after ten years that such a gift awaited him. To receive a work of art that represents friendship, memories and beautiful transient inspiring youth at the thresh hold of turning half a century is truly a blessing from forces that guide destiny.