I stand at a distance, looking at the images from outside the stall. Ten years and too many tribulations later, the sweat and tears have turned into mere paper. People look at those pieces, some with fascination others with indifference and go on with their existence, soaking in the art around them. I go into flashback.
My memory is terrible, that’s why most of what I recall is through the videos I end up watching. There are of course plenty- from the solo drives, to the one’s in the winter where one was accompanied by a servant, maid, assistant, taxi driver, anyone basically who would give me company on a highway which gets blocked in the winter. Money makes the mare to go and it’s never ceased to amaze me how the domestic help agreed to tread the journey with me, come back to Delhi and twenty five days later got on a bus so that he could accompany me back, to make a few extra bucks. Chinni and Diya ka Safar , is a very amusing video. The assistants on the other hand have been as nutty as I am.
Over the years of course one has been joined by many family members. The Mother’s flown down a few times, so there are the cutest pictures of her dressed like a Kashmiri. The Mother’s family is from Jammu, so over the years they’ve joined me in Srinagar. Many wanted to come when I kept an apartment there but I turned them down as, I had neither permanent help, nor a chauffeur. A trip to Gulmarg with a nephew finds a place on my FB profile, so do the 2008-2010 pictures, with my favourite cousins, who shuttled between Srinagar and Jammu during that time as they owned a restaurant in Srinagar. ‘Di when are you going to send us those videos?’ they ask repeatedly. When I edit a making of my Kashmir project, I think. Every year, one thinks of doing that, every year one thinks not yet. Without the kind of access I got through those delivery boys, I would have never been able to go to some of the places, I’ve been to. They made Loss, possible.
There may be visual records of my journeys, well documented proof of the photography, my presence and the ownership of the cameras ( when one is a female photographer, one needs more proof than you can imagine) but there isn’t a single trace of the what I was thinking or feeling. ‘ ‘Why Kashmir?’ they ask me. ‘Why not? Kyun nahin!’ I see the face of a beautiful man I once knew. No, it has nothing to do with a man! I’ve left my heart by the side of the Dal, where I’ve prayed a thousand times and cried a million tears. I feel as if I’m a machine every where else, I just keep returning to make sure I’m still human.
The misogynistic bullshit, breaks my reverie. Soon one will be on one’s way.