Reel moments

Reel moments


I recently happened to locate our 70-year-old family album, thought to have been lost, containing photos of my parents, grandparents and their siblings. My 10-year-old granddaughter whose eagerness to know about our ancestral lineage is insatiable, lost no time in scanning each and every picture. Identifying and connecting each one of the photos with the information she had retained in her remarkable memory she was delighted to be transported back to a time that she had only heard of. The black and white pictures had visibly captured her love and adoration for her ancestry.

“Tatha, what would happen if a thing like photography didn’t exist at all? We would have never known what our ancestors, about whom we hear so much, looked like!” True. I couldn’t imagine a world sans the magic of this marvellous interplay of light and shade.
Age old photos are the most faithful historians and true story tellers of the past events of the family, stirring  memories of vanished worlds besides building bridges of bondage between generations. Even in this age of digital photography, the black and white beauties have maintained their own mystique.

While photos command a certain solemn status in our lives, they have also given rise to not only humourous but also awkward situations. Many years ago a close friend of mine, a proverbial absent-minded professor, had sent a photograph purported to be that of his to-be-married sister to the prospective family. The boy approved the girl in the photograph. All hell broke loose when the photograph turned out to be that of the professor’s wife itself!

People, especially ones of fairer sex (with due apologies to this honoured group), have a very natural tendency to defy time and desire to look younger than they are, but the photographs are too truthful to oblige these aspirants. Violating their chronological sanctity, younger photos are attached even in such documents as passports often resulting in embarrassing identification problems.

While on the topic I cannot forget a singularly embarrassing incident that happened when I was in the service of Bhilai Steel Plant: In 1982 Leonid Brezhnev, former president of Soviet Union, had passed away and a local English daily in Madhya Pradesh carried his obituary with the photograph of our managing director who bore a startling resemblance to the deceased leader with his bushy eyebrows and a similar facial profile! To make matters worse the corrigendum in the next morning’s issue read thus: “We regret to inform that Mr X whose photo appeared yesterday is very much alive and it is unfortunately Mr Brezhnev who is no more!”