The Missing Photograph

“He is a very lucky boy. He has nine parents” said my nana, my maternal grandfather. He had come to visit me at the hospital, after I gave birth to Aadit. I smiled as he explained who the nine parents were – my husband and myself, my in-laws, my parents- we made six. Then, he counted my son’s great-grandparents from both sides- my father’s mother, my mother-in-law’s mother and he himself (my mother’s father). So, in totality, according to my nana, Aadit had nine parents and that made him a very lucky boy. I quite liked his reasoning!

When I started compiling Aadit’s photo album with all the enthusiasm of a new mother, I dedicated an entire page to his “nine parents”. The page was to have pictures of infant Aadit with each one of his “nine parents”. I somehow managed to get a picture of all- except my nana.

Time passed. Aadit was blossoming into an active and lovely child while my nana’s health withered. I met him on a few occasions, but never ended up taking the photograph. Aadit grew up from an infant to a toddler and the photo remained to be taken.

Then, one day, nana was admitted to the ICU. It all happened so suddenly without warning. When I went to see him he was not conscious. Several tubes were affixed on him. Through these, when I looked at him it dawned on me – will I ever be able to take that photograph again? I looked at him for quite some time. But, his eyes remained shut. He was surviving on life support systems. Even when we got him home, he did not regain his consciousness. The tubes were also there, albeit fewer in number. He died soon after.

Amidst the flow of thoughts that come to us when we witness our near and dear ones depart, there are a few strands that have something to tell us. The missing photo –that which I did not click keeps nagging me. It tells me that one should not procrastinate when it comes to the little things pertaining to our loved ones. Enjoy the moment with them. Collect memories and crystallize them. Eventually, this is what matters. And, a little unclicked photo taught me that.

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