As we grow older, moments become memories and memories become experiences. But trying to find an object symbolic of those moments is hard work. Here are 10 images that symbolise a particular moment or a recurring theme in my life.
Happiness, Death, Success. We all go through such emotions and experiences over time. Sometimes we ignore them and move on, only to remember them after they’ve passed. Sometimes the emotion is so strong that we cannot help but remember it until it becomes a part of our growth as human beings.
The hardest part of this assignment was not trying to remember all these moments but trying to recall an object that would be an accurate representation of the moment.
Then. Time is core to all our moments: the ones passed, the one going on and the ones yet to come. Growing up, I couldn’t wait for time to pass. I would count the months till my next birthday, the weeks till summer vacation, the days till the weekend, the hours of sleep I’d be getting till the morning, the minutes in each class, the seconds before the microwave announced my food ready. Time consumes us all and we don’t even realise it. Aperture: 4 Shutter Speed: 1/25 ISO: 800
Aged 1. This is a very old and traditional form of putting on “kajul,” i.e. eyeliner. The older generation believed this could ward off the “evil eye” and protect us from the evilness of mankind. So, obviously, on my very first birthday when I was to be surrounded with people, my grandmother swamped my eyes with the stuff. For years to come, I can still remember whining as she tried to hold me down and poke my eyes out with the golden stick full of that icky black stuff. Aperture: 5.6 Shutter Speed: 1/30 ISO: 400
Aged 3. I used to love swinging on this rusty red thing (which wasn’t so rusty back then.) That is, until I decided to stand on the little seat and swing myself till I fell down… and broke my arm. Thus began months and months of arm in casts and hospital visits. Aperture: 11 Shutter Speed: 1/50 ISO: 200
Aged 5. In the desi culture, when guests come over, you have to serve them something. Whenever we had guests over, I would see my mother bustling around the kitchen preparing kebabs and rolls and, of course, tea. How can you be Pakistani and not serve your guests tea? Blasphemy! So this was my little tea set. I kept it safe in my mother’s little glass cabinet, just like my mother kept her own tea sets in the cabinet. And when we had guests over, my mother would take out her own tea sets and I would take out this little thing. I would sit by the centre table in the living room and make a show of pouring tea out from the tiny kettle into the even tinier tea cups. Tiny me with my tiny tea set was a hit sensation with all those guests! What was even better? 5 year old me loved it when the adults drank my “tea” before my mom’s (actual) tea. Now this little set sits by all my mother’s other decoration pieces, waiting for the day another 5 year old will take it down and make some tea. Aperture: 4.5 Shutter Speed: 1/13 ISO: 800
Aged 7. Kids grow up with multiple teddy bears and imaginary friends. I did not. I had a lot of bears, but never really liked them much. Cue Fluffy. Fluffy, the fluffiest pink dog shaped teddy ever, was given to me as a gift for my 7th birthday. And, lo and behold, I had a new friend. 7 is a little too old for teddies, I guess, but Fluffy and I didn’t care much. To this day, I have given all my dolls and bears away, but Fluffy still remains – albeit a little lonely. Aperture: 5 Shutter Speed: 1/15 ISO: 800
Aged 12. My grandparents were visiting us from Pakistan. It was going to be an exciting 6 months because, regardless of where your grandparents are from, they’ll all spoil you senseless! But then, one day, my grandmother was rushed to emergency. Before a week had finished, she was living through machines. A machine was breathing for her, a machine was feeding her, a machine was excreting for her. At only 62, she had gone into a coma. My aunt, the ‘baby’ of her family, visited us to see her mother. She was the youngest and my grandmother’s condition was affecting her the worst. Being 12 and not having any idea how to help her, I suggested that she and I play a friendly game of chess. On this same set. Half an hour into the game, my aunt was actually smiling and laughing! I was so proud of myself! That is, until the call came. From a distant relative, giving condolences on my grandmother’s passing away. Soon after, we had left for the hospital to pay our final respects before they covered my grandmother with the white sheet. For weeks after, this chess set stayed with all the little chess pieces exactly where they were that night. I could not bear to put the pieces in order. Those pieces were a constant reminder of the happiest I had felt in weeks before it and the weeks that followed it. Months later, someone finally rearranged the pieces. But whenever I see the set, I still see the scattered pieces from that night. Aperture: 4 Shutter Speed: 1/20 ISO: 400
Aged 15. Like most things of the past, we lose their value and forget their importance. This swing used to sit on a grassy area in my mom’s garden, surrounded with trees. Sometimes, in the winter, I would sit with a blanket and a good book, and let the time swing by. Other times, I would have my mother lit up a fire in one of the tin cans and keep that beside me. Now, this swing sits on the porch, broken by some rowdy kids that once visited us. Aperture: 11 Shutter Speed: 1/50 ISO: 200
Aged 18. My mother’s ring box had all the shapes and sizes and colours that you can imagine. From large emeralds encrusted in a gold ring to tiny sapphires and diamonds arranged on a white gold band. But out of all the big and tiny rocks she owned, this one ring was my favourite. It was on a gold band, adorned with sapphires and rubies. Mom got it made when I was 15 and, for three years, whenever I opened her ring box to help her get ready for a party, I would take that ring out, place it on my finger and admire the light reflecting off it. It was probably one of the most expensive things my fingers had ever touched. My mom caught me once, admiring the ring, and said, “I’ll give it to you when you graduate high school – but only if you get amazing grades!” Hah, I thought. As if she would actually gift me something that expensive. It was rubies and sapphires for crying out loud! Come high school graduation, my mother probably clapped the loudest and cried the hardest. A week later, I was given a wrapped box and – lo and behold – there was the ring! Aperture: 4 Shutter Speed: 1/20 ISO: 800
Aged 19. I got my license a few months after my 18th birthday. I got my car a few days before my 19th. I had always loved keychains but never really had a key to put them on… so when I got my car keys, the first thing I did was adorn it with as many keychains as I could. Eventually, I had to remove a lot of them cause it was quite chaotic but these two, my favorites, remained. The Deathly Hallows keychain marked a story that had been probably the most important to me growing up. The Northwestern University in Qatar keychain symbolises the five years I spent fighting with my family to pursue the career I wanted – and actually made it! Aperture: 4.5 Shutter Speed: 1/60 ISO: 200
Now. I see my younger siblings obsessing over time just as I once did, still do. They’ve grown from little crying babies, to giggling toddlers, to almost teenagers with very annoying attitudes. They’ve gone from putting pigtails in their hair before school to rushing to get make up done before they go out – and yet, they never stop looking up from their watches and obsessing over time. Aperture: 4 Shutter Speed: 1/20 ISO: 800