There isn’t much in the world that can escape the inevitability of decay. Time changes everything. As morbid a thought as it sounds, it is anything but that. Decay is possibly one of the most vital elements in the cycle of life. We frolic in the blissful innocence of our childhood and before we know it, we’re trying to preserve those memories which also slowly decay. It is only natural and it happens to all of us.
Earlier this year, I asked my mother if I could look through the collection of our family photographs. Aside from all the prints that were more or less intact, I found a whole bunch of negatives that seemed to have deteriorated, decayed: they were riddled with fungus. I held them up to the light but I couldn’t make out what was in them. I then took it upon myself to put my negative scanner to good use. Most of the frames were ruined with random patches of yellow and pink marks. I continued to scan them anyway hoping to catch faint, fuzzy glimpses of our past.
I stopped at one particular photograph. It was taken at a beach and it had my brother, my cousins, and my late uncle in it. They were running towards the sea but I was standing behind. I must have been under ten. I remember vaguely that I used to be frightened of the water and that I couldn’t swim then. I remember that my uncle, an air force fighter pilot, was a man of adventure. I remember that he eventually convinced me of the sheer joy of jumping into the waves. Or at least that is what I want to remember now.
Looking at this photograph brought back memories, all mostly vague and fading. I asked my mother if she could help me recollect details. She said that she took that picture and that it was taken at Cherai Beach in Vypeen. But that was all she remembered. I spent the rest of the evening fondly reminiscing about my childhood with my mother. Throughout that evening, my mother and I reminisced about that time in our lives and I felt a compelling urge to see that beach again. I am not a child any more, I don’t have a child of my own, but I want to remember what it felt like to be a child. And for that, I will travel back in place, so to speak, if not in time.
This issue is very dear to me, because of the value that decay places on memory and nostalgia. The smell of wet earth as you build a sandcastle, the taut pull of the kite against baby skin, as you instinctively learn to pull and yield just the right amount of thread. That juxtaposition of adventure and safety at a beach: the waves pulling you towards, an avuncular hand pulling you away. With this issue, we’ll try to relive those indelible memories of Disney and dinosaurs, stargazing and snowfall, frolic and photographed memories. We’ll undertake to bring back the best of your childhood, ours, and that of a planet that we can only hope will age well.
Shashank Jayaprasad is a photographer and writer currently based in Bangalore, India. With a particular passion for shooting – with his camera alone – animals around the world, Shashank is deeply interested in seeing the world and observing the wild.
Follow Shashank on Instagram: instagram.com/shashankjayaprasad