My Grandmother In Prayer – A Portrait

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MyGrandmotherInPrayerBy the time I had finished watching an old episode of a high profile calendar shoot series in India…My mind was filled with envy…And the gorgeous Canon 7D Mark II camera that the lead photographer possessed, was not the only reason behind it.

He had so many good-looking people posing for him too.

For photography, I am generally drawn towards nature, but that show had awakened a sudden, and new creative urge in me – to shoot beautiful people.

I took out my camera and started thinking about finding someone young and charming to pose for it, thought of few names but none of them were available at that moment…

Sitting in the living room of my home in India, I was still virtually searching for my model when I noticed this left palm of hers. The soft fingers humbly pointing heavenwards were counting the number of beads(in sync with chantings) completed by the right hand.

Her fair complexion was glowing in that dark brown sari she was wearing. Her fine silvery hair was only adding to her divine face. Her tranquil and peaceful eyes reflected her one-ness with the spiritual routine she was in. Her smile was no less than sunshine…She looked so graceful, so dignified, so unaware of her beauty, so effortless. I realized that I was already having someone to make portraits of…in terms of poise and confidence she was no less than any model, not even the ones I had just watched on TV.

I went to the chair she was sitting on and sat near her feet. Pointing my camera towards her, as I composed my frame, I blurred her right hand and started focusing on the left hand that had caught my attention. As an old habit, the hand softly extended towards my head but I put it back where it was, on her lap.

Again I started focusing on this hand…and when it came into sharpest of the focus, I could not help but notice how sublime this hand looked…all those wrinkles on it were making it grander.

I started wondering how many times this hand must have patted my shoulder, touched my cheeks and wiped my tears, made ponytails of my hair, pampered me, how many times it must have cooked my favorite dishes, packed my lunch-boxes, put bites of sweets in my mouth…

How many times it must have held story-books to read them to me, my notebooks to help in my maths problems, and my craft books to give ideas in my school assignments…

Most important of all, something which I will always be immensely proud of, this was the same hand that had taken my hand and taught me to write for the first time ever…

This hand was gentle, delicate, maybe a little weak, but still, was steady as a rock. For me, this hand has always symbolized faith, hard-work, courage, and above all, conviction.

I savored every frame I created in that photographic session…It was my most delightful portrait shoot ever.

And as for my regrets about the “model”…Well, I would have regretted all my life if I had shot some other model that day.

She is no more. And this hand portrait of her has become one of the most precious photographic possessions of mine, and in my opinion, the most powerful portrait I have ever taken of a person.

Note: The hand portrait is of my maternal grandmother who has raised me, shaped me, and taught me how life should be lived. 

 Photograph Copyright ©2016 Gyaneshwari Dave

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