Grief is an intimate experience. Everyone journeys this path differently. I wandered through a variety of coping mechanisms when I experienced loss more than once. While some may grieve in order to let go, I look at it as a process of recollecting and memorialising. After all, life is a journey in movement and impermanence. The nescient harps about the inevitability of Death, but the well acquainted will remind you of her distinct nature: unpredictable, unreasonable, and untimely.
In 2018, I photographed my maternal grandfather’s physicality as he grappled with Parkinson’s Disease. A visual narrative of the frail human body, the degeneration of muscles, weakening postures, and immobilisation.
It allowed me to explore a more personal narrative of remembering him; and the grip of his feeble hands holding onto mine. I wanted every inch of that feeling to be captured in an image that would remind me of him, even when he wouldn’t be around. His touch, the softness of his wrinkled skin, his frail limbs, the poky surface of his shaved chin, the dryness of his scalp, his pale, milky complexion, the surfacing of veins and the growing freckles on his forearms.
Nana Ji passed away at the beginning of this year, and as miserable and daunting the experience of loss is, it gave me a chance to revisit these photographs, to remember the loving grandfather he has been to me and my sister.
I remind myself that life is a consequence of movement. One that makes it a bubbling, shimmering, and crumbling experience. A journey, where death is our only point of stillness.
Additional note from artist:
In loving memory of Shiv Nath Kaul (1933-2021)
S.N. Kaul was born into a Pandit family in Srinagar, Kashmir. He studied Chemical engineering at Banaras Hindu University and joined BARC (Bhabha Research Centre) where he was part of a select group to be sent to the United States to study nuclear engineering. After receiving his Masters degree from Kansas State University, he joined the Heavy Water Board under department of Atomic Energy where he worked as part of a program developing heavy water enrichment technology with the aim of indigenous production to support the Indian Nuclear Power Program. Following an early retirement, he spent a large part of his time practicing Yoga and Homeopathy. He was known to have a keen spiritual inclination and was an avid reader of the teachings of Ramana Maharishi. He continued to be a tech enthusiast post retirement, and even had an interest in photography. Lastly, he is remembered as a doting grandfather, and I feel proud and honoured to have been inspired to create this series as a tribute to him.