Ancestral protrait 1938


The photograph is black and white of course. Time has slightly yellowed its lighter shades of gray. Its clearly taken at some sort of party in the evening. The two of them are barely recognizable. She is striking young and beautiful. The sari feels glamorous and contemporary. He has hair, no visible cigarette and wears a suit (which would eventually give way to a national). Very much a man of the pen in an age without air conditioning.

They face the camera with the calm cool literary gaze of a hip avant-garde couple. The lack of smiles is not hostile. Just poise caught in moment that seems both Henri Cartier-Bresson and Yousuf Karsh. At least to me anyway.

The date on the photo is an unhistorical one. In far away Europe Mr Hitler had not yet taken Czechoslovakia. A world war was barely a year away. After that would flow much family history. I wonder if those gazes in the photo would look so confident if they knew what was to come. Particularly to the little island they both loved so much. I think they would not be shaken too badly.

They raised their children and rode the waves of life despite whatever history hurled at them. Which is how the photo inspires me. But that’s a secret.

7 comments

    • Nice description.

      Plenty of these old photos lurking in everyones albums – I hope people continue to treasure these things. I have a few with great grandfathers and their elephants in Peradeniya – you see analogue lasts, it ages and adds its own beauty. In 8o years time your digital files might not be readable ..pffft!

      Anyway, ‘shades of gray’….’gray’?… really, Mr Cerno?

      Did you receive the little education you have in the Americas? I think we should be told!

      Like

      • 🙂 thank you! Glad you liked the post. Quite right about the readability of digital file in a few decades.

        As for the gray/grey thing – I pecked that post on my father’s laptop – I think it was set to American spelling😐 Yes the Amerika’s is one of the continents I’ve passed though🙂

        Like

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