“Eventually, soulmates meet, for they have the same hiding place.”
I still remember that picture. Hands, tanned and wrinkled, bearing the imprint of years of toil. Those hands held a bunch of roses- fresh, delicate and blood-red. The contrast was striking. Perhaps, if soft, delicate hands had held those roses, the picture would have been lost upon me. The roses, in a strange way, seemed to belong there. The hands held them with the familiarity and deftness that only comes with years of handling beauty that is fragile.
Deftness that comes with years of handling the fragility of their own lives.
I visited the photo blog of the photographer who had captured this image. His blog was a compilation of pictures that spoke of infinite stories. Most of the pictures projected a slice of human life against a backdrop of nature. A canvas of nature in all its splendour and glory, seeming to derive meaning from the rim of human existence that thrives on it. A boatman rowing his boat for a livelihood, the river and the sky silent witnesses to the story of his life. A wild orchard of flowers embracing a world of their own, a hand caressing them in passing. The apparently benign presence of a butcher’s knife against a backdrop of birds that go about their lives, unsuspecting of the destiny that is in store. And many more. Some unique to a land and its people. Each rich in its aesthetic appeal.
They were all slices of life, each rich in essence….
It delighted me to discover photographs that had a soul..that were not apparent works of art created from technical knowhow. Technology so often cleverly conceals the lack of essence in a creation. So much so that the audience almost loses the ability to distinguish between a work of art and work that is created from technical manipulation.
I left a comment on his blog. And he left a reply on my inbox. That made a difference. A mail was a more personal reciprocation than a comment in reply. That mail actually left an imprint on my mind. As I realized later, he always gave a personal touch to his interactions with people.
It was a pleasure writing to each other. I have always cherished written one-to-one communications. I think a lot of our initial mails were about the factors that must shape art and the artist. I remember this important conclusion we had drawn:
‘Imagination must be used to create reality, and not to escape from reality.’
There was a period of absence- a phase when the preoccupations of life took over, and we did not communicate to each other. I also remember the sudden bout of joy I felt when I saw his mail after that period. A mail where he mused aloud if things were okay with me.
He set an example for me, both as an artist and as a human being. Our discussions were never about his life; they were always about mine. Our mails represented to me a space where I discussed my perceptions and analysis of the world while he stood inconspicuously in the backdrop.
Mirroring the equation in his pictures…
He would then add newer dimensions to my perspectives, sometimes defining sharply what I had been vague about, sometimes bringing to visibility a perspective I was blind to, and sometimes driving me towards questioning my own self. Each revelation was overwhelming…and a step towards the deep wisdom of life that is conspicuously lacking in the minds of people of these times.
Where did he get all his wisdom from?
Perhaps from his deep and genuine involvement with people. From his inherent curiosity towards human life.
He transformed into my mentor. And then I realized that a mentor is much more than a friend who stands by your side, much more than a teacher who merely imparts knowledge. He taught me that unless a parent or teacher or friend could also be a mentor, wisdom and growth would not be complete.
After an year of interaction, I know little about the external facets of his life. It might sound odd, but I don’t even know his age! But I know his mind.
And somehow, that has been enough and more for me.
As he reads this, I can already imagine the smile on his face….