Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Nothing nudges our memories more than the camera!

There is one picture of my mother in her youth that I hate. Problem is, it’s in the living room and the worst bit is, it’s her living room; I can’t take it down.

I cringe every time I look at that photo; it sends shivers up my spine.
She clearly took her time that day, to bath, put on the new clothes she ordered through a South African catalogue, put on lipstick (they used to call it red lips),put on the sun hat (I am pretty sure it must have been winter) and posed as if she was lying in a bed of roses by a huge rock.
My mother loves that picture. She thinks it’s amazing; I think not.

Remember the pictures from the olden days where people would be posing in running shorts and striking ridiculous running poses. That’s one of the major differences between the new generation and the past one. Nowadays the best pictures are those taken during random moments, e.g. when two good friends were rolling around in laughter and a third friend took a picture.

Our memory, in its fragile state, tends to forget certain events that took place at one time in our lives, therefore we treasure anything that can help trigger our memories to times that we would like to do our best to hold onto. That is why we are still fascinated with the camera even today.

Of course, now almost everyone can afford to buy a portable camera unlike in the olden days where there would only be one person in the village who owned a camera and would charge ridiculous prices for pictures. One would book him and wait for at least a week because he was taking his rounds around the village.

No matter the generation, pictures are of vital importance to people. They trigger memories of great happiness or sadness; they give us memories of our loved ones who might have passed on and show us how far along in life we have come.

The other day, I was cleaning out my old book cabinet, when I suddenly came upon my old dishrevelled up photo album. It had been a while since I saw it and I was taken aback by how long it had been stored in the cabinet.

Needless to say, the pictures were clearly of me and my friends years ago. It amazed me how long it took me to remember where and when the pictures were taken and what we were doing at that precise moment.

I couldn’t believe how young and na├»ve we looked, completely at ease with posing for pictures. How things have changed!

I find a picture of my friend Masego with her big old Afro, and a school skirt that was unnecessarily long. The picture is not exactly flattering. Her pictures today however are a different story, they are not on photo albums, they are not in her mother’s purse, or on the wall; they are on Facebook and Twitter. In them she looks top notch and glamorous, lipstick on, her hair in the right place.

She would die if I were to ever scan and upload those pictures. I nearly burst out in tears when I came across pictures I took with my cousin Kebonye years ago. She died from a short illness last year.

I was supposed to see her the week she died but I was caught up with work and school. I never had a chance to say goodbye to her. I forgot that I took those pictures with her and put them away.

It felt like yesterday when we were posing for the camera in Orapa at the Duck n Scrum. Funny enough, it was during the festive season and she had just finished school.

In the pictures, she looks happy and full of life, no care in the world. It’s hard to believe that this was the same girl I saw in the coffin. I could have sworn they were two completely different people. I framed one of the pictures and put it on my wall, this is how I would love to remember her.
Like it or not, we re-live our lives through photographic memories, that’s why at all important occasions, cameras are always clicking away.

When we graduate from university, on our kids first birthdays, at our weddings, when our babies take their first steps, on nights out with our friends, with the people we love and when our friends have blacked out from binging nights photographs provide us with an indisputable reminder of how things happened.

We use photographs to tell stories of our adventures and about the people we once knew. And we love to pose.
The most famous line that most posers use is, ”I am not photogenic so let me strike a pose.”

And we will continue to strike poses for years; photographs are important. That is why even mobile phones have cameras installed in them. That is why people would rather pay more for a camera phone than for a plain one.
So go on, take that picture, store those memories, and tell your kids and your grand children about what was happening then.

Genuine stories from the heart, but don’t forget to live in the moment.
Strike a pose!

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Read this week's paper

The Telegraph September 23

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.