THIS IS THE CLOSEST WE WILL GET.
Deprived of the privilege to see my grandfather alive, upon growing up I was told that I have habits and interests similar to that of his. He was a freedom fighter,teacher, radio jockey, photographer and poet too. As I grew older, I developed an eagerness towards his life and the only way for me to learn more about him was through my father and scavenging through my family archives, reflecting upon the photographs with my uninvited gaze. I felt in myself a desire to depict and explorethe things that are lef behind.
My minute discoveries about my grandpa’s life became a way of exploring my relationship with my father. There is a polarity linked with my father’s behaviour that ofen makes me feel that we are very distant even though we share the domestic space and family history. It has ofen made me think that maybe the only true heirloom is memories and intergenerational traumas. The form ofcommunication has been replaced by daily 'Good Morning' cards on whatsapp. As his age is progressing, I see him talking less and expressing more on social media than in person, ofen about the dissatisfaction and corruption in the government. Daily status update has taken an important role in his life, ofen leading to a temporary ban for using too much freedom of speech on facebook against the state. There are a lot of stories of the Indian freedom struggle but our time often makes me think if we ever actually achieved freedom. There is a constant silencing of voices, ideas, institutionalized oppression and rampant nationalism, it ofen makesme think of the battles fought to free us all. I think if my grandfather was alive, he would question if we ever attained freedom in its actuality. We live in a contrasting time and social media does take up space within our surroundings, it alters ourrelationships too.
Photographing my domestic space and reflecting on archives became a way of feeling my grandfathers presence around me and to reflect on my own relationship with my father. It also became a way of navigating my own presenceand identity. The mystery lingers on, the assumptions of his voice are baffling.He could be a million things that I think he was or a million things that he wasn't. He lives on and is preserved between what is known and the in-betweenmoments of conflicts and negotiations in our private space.