His index finger circled the shutter button slowly; his breath took a break and the world around him stopped for that fraction of a second. That perfect moment had arrived. As the index finger depressed the button, a moment in time was captured forever. For him it was the essence of his existence. Stitching together the moments in time and reliving them all, over again, and again. The party went on uninterrupted; he quietly slipped out of the room, and slowly walked up to the attic. No one really noticed.
He opened the door to see his only friend - familiarity, waiting for him ever so patiently in every form shape and size. The same single cot, the tired bed lamp, the thirsty jug, or the ragged rug, the lonely glasses or the squeaking chair and the aging album. They were all there for him and he for them. He was mostly attentive to all his friends, but the album was close to his heart.
He had it the longest beside him, though he never remember the date it was born, but its contents went on to capture the moments that shaped his life. As he did every time, around this time, every year, he went back in time flipping pages of history. The first page had captured the smoke billowing from the hull of a ship. A vessel that shipped him to the best memories of his life from the troubled past. Those were the golden years of his life, which of course he didn’t know then but would realize later and loop back infinitely. The photograph was in monochrome and sunlight had created a perfect shade on his smile. The background was oblivious of his joy as he was of theirs.
The foreign breeze must have been just perfect, as the curl on his forehead added to the glamor of the picture. The tie knot and suit contrasted, and the leather handbag completed the perfect picture. The love of his life had taken that beautiful photograph. So many years passed before his eyes in a flash. As he took his eyes off the photographic past, his present snapped in and reminded him of today.
It was his granddaughter’s birthday. Her mother, and her mother, was no longer part of the picture. Their last moments were captured by the doctor’s words and not on his camera. He felt a shooting pain through his heart as tears welled up in his weary eyes and burst out uncontrollably. He yearned for one last moment with his loved wife and daughter, one last moment to capture or be a part of. It never happened. He was late, a memory that haunted him to this day, exactly fourteen years now. Today was no different. It was ironical that there was a birth to celebrate and deaths to mourn on the same day. Over time, the balance tilted from somber to celebration for the day.
People had new photographs to cheer. He rarely left the attic but for today, every year, to capture that face, which reminded him of her presence around him. His granddaughter had inherited all the looks from her grandmother, specially those eyes. He would make it a point to capture those beautiful eyes, in their various moods that day and go back to his abode in the attic.
In the party hall below, Emily suddenly felt a bit uneasy. ‘What’s the matter honey?’ her friend asked. ‘Nothing its just that I felt something strange inside – I am not sure what but something’s wrong’ ‘Do you want to lie down for a bit?’ ‘I think so, maybe I am just a bit tired, I guess age is catching up, I’d like to be on my own for sometime’. Her friend looked on disconcertingly as Emily walked away from her.
Emily walked up the stairs to her bedroom. She noticed that the attic door was open. She was drawn to the attic and slowly walked up towards the door. As she entered the room she saw a single cot unkempt, as if someone had slept on it, the bed lamp was switched on, the water in the jug was still circling, the rug was lying half folded, the glasses were broken and the chair rocked back and forth as if someone had just got up and left. Her eyes wandered on to the aging album lying on the side table.
As she flipped the transparent thin paper over the photograph she saw a picture of her grandfather standing on a port with a camera hanging from his shoulder. The date on the photograph was 4th April 1905.
Gyanban Thoughts - this is a short story, flash fiction, based on some true events.I have tried to capture the loneliness and pain in the form of objects, be it the camera,the attic, or the album.This experimental piece focuses more on the scene construct, so the detailing is by design.The original thought was to write a tragedy,but eventually it wrote itself out as a suspense with a twist at the end.I am trying hard not to do this,but find it very difficult.So maybe the next one I will focus solely on not having a twist. Having said that, I really enjoyed the twist in this one,somewhere I felt there couldve been multiple twists in terms of the narration and the conclusion but I settled for the least complex.I hope my readers enjoyed it too.
image courtesy: here.