Images that tell endless stories

Everybody is a fan of photography. The believers and the non-believers. The introverts and the extroverts. Those who prefer pineapple on their pizza and those who understand pizza. The good and the not-so-good. Everyone. Quite literally. Unless we are talking about protected tribes on the Andaman or in the depth of Amazon. But if you show them a photograph, there is no way they wouldn’t be fascinated.

That, ladies and gentlemen and the others, is the beauty of a camera.

It hypnotizes you and pauses the moment—while making you say something as phonetically absurd as ‘cheese’—under the pretence of capturing you. And over the decades, the technology has only improved and the pictures are growingly sharper. Yet, if you ask me, what makes photography timeless is its adherence to the most basic of human tenets: seeking the truth.

In this blog post, I’ll be sharing a few images that, I believe, mean a lot more than they showcase.

Let’s start with the person who can’t donate his organs even if he wants to; his body belongs to the Church even though his soul shall remain free.

Pope Francis warmly greeting a man with a skin condition at Vatican is everything we need to know about humanity. How you look doesn’t matter because you might lose your looks tomorrow. How you are as a person is all that counts in the end. If we can’t stand something natural, then perhaps something is wrong with our character.

Moving onto arguably my all-time favourite image. This zen gentleman has a name but nobody cares about it. He will always be The Burning Monk to his admirers.

Duc sat like a lotus in the middle of the road, softly chanted his mantra (invoking Amitabha, the most complete of all Buddhas), struck a match and lit himself up. As he burned, he didn’t move even an inch. His body consumed fire as much as the smoke consumed his being. A protest of the highest order occurred that day in Vietnam.

A child has no business leaving our world this way. But by doing so, this girl from Colombia taught us a lesson in resilience, grace, tragedy and despair.

Her name was Omayra and she was 13 years old when a volcanic eruption in her town left her stranded in debris for three days. She stood there waiting to be rescued. Throughout her ordeal, she maintained a dignified outlook, foreign to most adults, forget children. She probably died of hypothermia but her stare has no medical term.

It’s not everyday a sportsperson is labelled God. But then, it’s not everyday we get to enjoy a phenomenon named Sachin. His farewell was delayed but almost perfect.

I am personally proud of this image because it was clicked by my then colleague at mid-day. It captures the very essence of our (read: Indians) relationship with a man who carried our expectations for a quarter of a century. If you think you are under pressure at work, imagine what this 5’4 feet giant must have felt throughout his career.

Religion promises a lot of miracles before depending on science to deliver them. At least that’s what moments like the one below reveal. Want to hear magic, huh?

This cute kid was born without the ability to hear and that’s him reacting to sound for the first time in his life. With the help of a hearing aid, he could gauge the hum of this universe. Those eyes, occupied by astonishment more than anything else, will get used to the noise as much as the sweetness of the sounds that surround him. Amazing, no?

Love doesn’t wait for anything. Time and morals don’t mean much to those who truly value their feelings. Whatever you want to call it, such madness can be splendid too.

10 years ago, a riot broke out in Vancouver. As the police and the citizens got into the usual business of chasing and cracking stuff, a couple thought it was the most appropriate time to make out on the road. Yes, quite in the middle of a lawless state of affairs. But then, who can stop the tide of love/hormones in a liberal country?

This list can go on and on.

Well, somebody has to end it.