Today, my elder brother shared a heartbreaking story of how we obtained a solitary photograph of our late father that provided us with a fleeting glimpse into his existence. All my well-wishers, followers and readers know that I was merely four years old and my youngest kin, Iti, was just a month old when our beloved father tragically passed away. Adding to our grief was the fact that we had no memory of our father, not even a photo. Our father, during his lifetime, never had a single photo clicked. In those times, cameras were rare, and there were few opportunities to have a photograph captured, let alone afford one. Moreover, his demise was sudden, an accident that took him away from us without warning. It was a harsh reality that weighed heavily on our family, robbing us of our future moments and photographs with him. But, it is the grace of god that we happened to come across a photo of his, in passport size.
My sagacious elder brother had some inkling and doubt that he might have to submit a passport-size photo while joining Tata Company, as all employers ask for it. He did not pursue this aggressively but had it on the back of his mind to retrieve father’s photo for the younger siblings. My brother recalled that at that time one of the highly placed admin employees of Tata Company wanted my eldest brother to provide private coaching to his son, knowing of my brother’s ability and intelligence. He refused and was reluctant to take tuitions as he was very busy with work.
One day, while my eldest brother was discussing with his friend about how the family doesn’t have a single photo of the father, and the only possibility of a photo would be the document submitted at the company where he worked, the friend mentioned the name of the documentation head, the same official who wanted my eldest brother to offer tuitions to his son. My brother considered it an opportunity to be close to someone who could help with father’s photograph. After a few months of coaching, pleased by the improvement in the academic performance of the son and a request from his wife, the documentation head gave the photocopy of the passport-size photo of the Late Anadi Charan Samanta, our father. Thus, we obtained a photograph of our father.
When I was in college, I enlarged the photo and expressed my gratitude to him every day for passing on his kindness gene. It is the only photo that connects us to him besides all the glorious stories that my mother and our lovely villagers narrate. We also began to offer food to Brahmins in memory of our father’s soul on his Punya Tithi since then. Had it not been for this one photo, that my eldest brother managed to get his hands on, we would have never known what he looked like, which would have caused sadness and longing. The gratitude we feel for this precious photograph is profound and inexpressible, as it has provided us with a gateway to connect with our father and celebrate his life. It is a testament to the power of destiny and the grace of the divine that comes with complete surrender that we were able to procure this artefact, and we will always cherish it as a tangible piece of our father’s legacy.