My sister is playing sitar in that corner room. She grew up into a young lady in the corridors, in the back yard of this house. My mom after returning from office is busy with her house hold engagements. At night she will wait for us to finish our dinner for she is the only one who would arrange the dining table after we were done. The monotonous Bengali television serials will be the only ones to accompany her at those late hours. Amidst this busy schedule of a cyclic home – office – home she tends to overlook the torn end of her saree. My papa, apparently seems to have little participation in the house, but he is the main driving force and a huge support always behind us. Our permanent guests are 2 camels; the mother with her foal curved out inimitably onto the broken loosely plastered ceiling of this shabby house. And when I talk about ceiling I remember those days during my summer vacations when I would be alone at house after my parents left for work. The daylight percolating through the narrow slits of the ventilator creating ghostly shadows on the walls of the closed room. This would send a shiver running down my spine; and unlike my peers I would complain to my papa about such a long vacation that I failed to enjoy. From tomorrow all these activities will cease to exist….
This project began as a photo essay of our family leaving the house which I inhabited since my senses developed as a child. These photographs are a collection of shots taken over a period of time, including when we left the house last December. For me, at the end of the event, this series is not an essay but remains just as a feeling of departure from a place called HOME and not a house.
Editor’s Note – Anil Cherukupalli
Home is where the heart is or so an old saying goes. Saikat’s photo essay about his old family home seems to saying the same. It is a loving tribute to a space his family and he lived in for many many years. The photo essay as a whole evokes multiple emotions, from nostalgia to sadness, from hope to even despair. Does your home define you? Do its many idiosyncrasies seep into you? Or do nostalgic memories of the past gloss over its many faults as a living space? The photos in this essay silently ask all of these questions leaving the viewer to formulate the answers, if any. The little details of the house that only a long time resident can notice and understand. The million mundane moments that one spends in one’s home. The people you live with and the many residents that also co-inahbit that space, from lizards to cats to crows. Going through the essay, I’m stuck by the profound feeling that the house holds for the photographer and his family, which comes out in the photographs. Even though the house was old and crumbling it was home. So many memories had been made between those walls. They had laughed, cried and fought. Everybody had gotten a little older and perhaps wiser. And when the time had finally come to make a new home nostalgia came flooding through like a swollen river bringing in its wake all sorts of flotsam and jetsam from a life lived together in the same space. In the end, like the brightly coloured drawing of the home, what lingers with you after viewing the essay is the bittersweet feeling of saying goodbye to someone you loved.