A reading room by the JOJO Library
for Indian Photo Festival 2020
We invite you to put on your headphones, adjust your volume and immerse yourself in reading with this soundscape.
Chandan Gomes & A.H Bano /
This World of Dew
This world of dew
is a world of dew
And yet, and yet
" A few years ago I was commissioned to photograph a hospital in Jaipur. The institution was completing four decades and the trustees wanted to make a book to commemorate its legacy. The hospital housed a hospice known as Avedna Ashram. I often visited the hospice to make photographs. On one such visit, I found a book of drawings of mountains. It had no name. Intrigued, I decided to hold onto it…
From the drawings, one could easily infer that the book belonged to a child. I spent the next few days trying to find the owner of the book. Due to stringent privacy policies, I could not access the hospital records. I spoke to everyone at the ashram – staff, patients and attendants – but no one seemed to know anything. The drawings revealed little…the answers I was seeking lay outside those pages. I left for the mountains with the book. For the next eight months I travelled extensively, making photographs inspired by the child's drawings.
I had almost given hope on finding the child when I met Asha, a nursing intern who attended to a girl at the ashram, who was fond of drawing. What Asha remembered lay somewhere between fact and memory. She told me that the girl was in a lot of pain towards the end of her stay at the ashram. And the weaker she grew, the more she drew…
With Asha’s help, I found the girl’s whereabouts. I left for Baran a few weeks later. On arriving in her village I was directed to Shaukat, a cousin of the girl’s father. It was pitch dark when I reached her grave…I lit the candle Shaukat had given me on a small mound of mud covered by uneven stones. Her name was Aini, which means spring, source of life. She died last January. Her family had left the village after her death.
Aini Haseena Bano had died even before I found her book of drawings. Closure became essential. And the only way I could find it was by locating her family. With Shaukat’s help, I traced Anwar, Aini’s father, at an industrial estate outside Delhi. He lived in a shanty, behind the factory where he worked as a daily wage labourer. We met twice and on both the occasions Anwar was inebriated. Everything that he told me walked the fine line separating remembrance and forgetfulness. He was still ridden with guilt and self-loathing. And yet in his drunken confessions, he drew the most intimate portrait of Aini, one that only a father would know.
He called her Shakroon…he said it meant nothing…he just loved the sound of it. A name without a meaning, is a like a poem free from the burden of explaining itself. It was a sound, he said, just like the falling rain or the blowing wind. Aini’s drawings were never about the future she had imagined for herself…but were rather an acceptance that she will not live long enough to ever see a mountain. He gave me Aini’s doll, her crayons and the only photograph he had of her.
“I hope her story is told…” were Anwar’s last words to me that evening. "
About the Author
Chandan Gomes has studied Philosophy at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi (2009). He is the recipient of the India Habitat Centre Fellowship for Photography in 2011, Oslo University Scholarship to participate in Chobi Mela in 2012, Neel Dongre Award in Photography in 2013, the Foto Visura Spotlight Grant in 2014 and the INK Fellowship in 2016. He was nominated for the Prix Pictet Award in 2015 and the Sovereign Asia Art Prize in 2018.
His artist book, 'This World of Dew', published by PHOTOINK, was released in 2015 and went on to garner critical acclaim. ‘This World of Dew’ has been shown at the Benaki Museum, Athens, Parc Des Ateliers, Arles and Zeytinburnu International Photography Festival, Istanbul, amongst other places. His photo essay ‘There are things I call home’ was on view at Asia Society Center, Texas as part of FotoFest 2018 Biennale, Houston. He exhibited his latest body of work ‘People You May Know’ at Les Recontres d’Arles in July, 2018 as part of the prestigious New Discovery Award; the exhibition was supported by PHOTOINK. Chandan has also exhibited at Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2018 and Serendipity Arts Festival 2018. Chandan is amongst the three finalists in the visual arts category for the prestigious Art Spectrum South Asia Awards 2019. He was invited to Centre for Documentary Studies, Duke University to exhibit his work and run workshops on book making and narrative building.
He currently teaches at the Sri Aurobindo Centre for Arts & Communications, Delhi and Ashoka University, Haryana.
About the Publisher
This World of Dew was published by PhotoInk in Delhi and is currently out of stock.
Book video produced by JOJO Library
Post Production by Aditya Tawate
All reproductions are used with the permissions of the author and/or publisher.