Stashed away in an old cupboard, inside a bag neatly folded around its contents, are old memories calling out to me from photo albums. This overtly melodramatic wistfulness has been triggered by my crashed hard disks that contained all the photographs of all my trips made in the last few years. No amount of software surgery has been successful on them and now they lie still with the contents trapped inside. It’s amazing how one event has managed to make me sad, angry and philosophical all at the same time.
But the problem seriously goes deeper than that. At the core is the seemingly unfathomable technology that dies on you suddenly, leaving you sulking and fuming at the very sight of the disk that contains painstakingly taken photographs now lost in space. But simultaneously, I also realize that I’m now sick of staring at the screen skimming through pictures. Who am I kidding? Had the pictures been there in the computer I would not have pined for them as much as I do in their absence. I now long to touch and feel the glossy Kodak paper and see some of my memories yellowed with time. Photos are anyway once removed from reality and the digital medium makes it twice removed; further extracting whatever little personal essence it had.
I look at the little square black-and-white photographs of my father as a child with his family and without any exaggeration, the photos carry an amazing depth; they look very life-like and connect me to a world entirely unknown. I sift through the handful that represent family decades–a stark contrast to the hundreds we click per occasion– and realize that I don’t need to see more, simply because the stories have been narrated to me, courtesy– my father’s photographic memory. Therefore, one may conclude that the very many photos we now take are a substitute for our own degenerative memory so that 20 years down the line, we can tell stories, using these pictures. Not a bad idea, I think. The only problem though, in installing a disk where the brain is that someday the information may just disappear…perhaps forever.
To cut the long rant short, I have thought of a possible solution to this problem. The first one is to not waste time taking too many pictures when travelling, instead taking the time to enjoy the place to the brim and inhale its flavour. Another is to develop and print a few of them and frame/preserve them old style so that they never grow old! All this only to preserve a constantly fading phenomenon called the memory, both real and the one trapped in a hard disk.
Vidhi Salla is writer, blogger, movie buff and traveller. She writes movie reviews and also contributes informative travel articles to websites. She gave up a lucrative corporate career to pursue creative writing, that she strongly believes is her calling.