Young World

Clicks for keeps

Peering into the camera lens, I zoomed in on a distant tree.  Behind it, the jagged peaks of mountains rose against the blue sky. It made a lovely sight, and satisfied, I clicked a picture. I lowered the camera and saw my parents, Chitra Aunty and Satish Uncle admiring the valley spread out before us. My cousin Sanika was admiring the view too. But why wasn’t she taking photographs?

Best gift

Three years ago, when I was 12, Sanika had spent her entire vacation with her camera glued to her eyes. I had envied my 16-year-old cousin.  Nothing, I had thought then, could be as much fun as being in control of a camera and deciding what was worth photographing. And this year, my parents had fulfilled my dream by gifting me a lovely camera.

From the moment I had held it in my hands, I had been clicking pictures.  And now, on our vacation in Kashmir, I was having a great time, taking pictures of all the beautiful places we visited.    

“Lovely, isn’t it?” I asked Sanika.  

“Oh, yes!” she said. “Look at that school!” I followed her finger and saw a tiny building. The blue– and –white uniform of the children contrasted against the green grass as they bent over their books, soaking in the sun. “And look at that river!”

River? I wondered, What river? Then I saw it – a silver line cascading down the mountains. Almost automatically, I reached for my camera and clicked.

“Aren’t you taking a photo?” I asked.  

“I don’t need to,” Sanika said.  

“Don’t need to?” I echoed. “But photographs are memories. A record of what you have seen!”

“True,” Sanika nodded. “But sometimes, memories are enough.”

I stared in astonishment at Sanika. She laughed at the look on my face. “Sometimes you miss many things when you look through a camera,” Sanika explained. “You can remember things even without a camera!”

“Rashmi! Sanika!” Chitra Aunty was waving us over.

As we got into the car I mulled over what Sanika had said. Was she right? After all, I had almost missed the lovely sight of the river flowing down the mountainside because I had been too busy clicking photographs. And if Sanika hadn’t pointed out the school, I would have missed those children engrossed in their studies. As the car began to move, I rolled down my window and put my head out.

“Taking one last photo, Rashmi?” Amma asked. 

“Yes, Amma,” I nodded, looking at the blue sky, the softly waving trees and the tiny ant like figures clambering on the slopes.

“But, Rashmi,” Chitra Aunty nudged me, “You haven’t got your camera!’

“I know!” I grinned.

“What kind of a photograph can you take without a camera?” Appa wanted to know.

I looked at my cousin, who was staring intently out of the window. “The best,” I said. “The kind that always stays fresh, and is never forgotten!” 

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Printable version | Oct 19, 2020 11:14:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/kids/short-story-clicks-for-keeps/article6400567.ece

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