To Amma

Prayer in darkness
Taarammaiyya, Thandu Thorammaiyya
Doorada Baanige yerida chandrana,
Taarammaiyya, Thandu Thorammaiyya
Nine of Amma’s (my maternal grandmother was fondly called as Amma by everyone who knew her) children and few of her fortunate grandchildren (including me) have spent their cradle years listening to this Kannada lullaby every night before being rocked into a sound sleep.

Amma passed away last Sunday morning, after half a decade of battling the problems of aging. Amma was in her early nineties. Over the years, she had lost her memory, vision and strength, and had been confined to her bed and chair till her last day. Though our family has been bereaved of a loved one, it should be noted that Amma’s sufferings have come to an end. She didn’t deserve this phase in life where she had lost her independence and right to a life with dignity. My fond recollections of her, dates back to the time when I visited our village every year during the summer holidays. This was the time when there used to be plenty of cattle, hen, dogs and cats in our farm. Images of her walking in the farm with a fistful of grains and calling out to the hens and chickens, “Baa.. baa..” , never seem to fade from my memory.

When it comes to Amma and my photography, I think I was quite late in picking up my camera. By the time I began to indulge in photojournalism and documentary photography, Amma had passed her graceful years and had slipped in to a life in oblivion.

Couple of years back I visited Amma and Ajja’s (grandpa) home with a SLR camera loaded with a black and white film. I was seeing Amma after a longtime and she had shrunk in size by then. With her memory caught in a time warp, she had lost touch with day-to-day happenings. Her eyes were giving away too. She could barely make out who or what was in front of her. Sometimes she used to speak about her father and her childhood home. And she had expressed her desire to meet her father, who was no-more. It was heartbreaking to see her in such a situation. But even in this condition, her motherly instincts were still strong. If she was eating something, say a banana, and if she could make out a figure moving around in the room, she would promptly offer a piece of whatever was on the plate to the person in the room.

Most of the times when left alone, she would get into a cycle of singing prayers. A prayer would be followed by her joining hands and bowing to the almighty. And this cycle would continue until somebody interrupted and diverted her attention. It was during one of those prayer sessions by the window, I stepped into the room with my camera. By then I had clicked portraits off Ajja and others in the house. But seeing Amma in the viewfinder, I somehow couldn’t shoot her picture. The face of Amma one has in their minds is from her healthier and jovial days. I was stuck in a dilemma. I began to wonder if it would be rude of me to document her in this state. But, I had to have Amma’s picture in my album. So, in that moment of dilemma I framed a silhouette of what Amma did the most in her later years…… pray. A prayer in her own world.

Nishant Ratnakar
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Nishant Ratnakar

Photographer | Visual Storyteller at www.nishantratnakar.com
Nishant is a Bangalore, India based Wedding, Portrait & Editorial Photographer. He is available for assignments across India. He also conducts photography workshops and offers personal photography mentorship.
Nishant Ratnakar
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Rakesh
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Rakesh

may her soul rest in peace. amma is into deep sleep. i dont know when we will wake up.

Rakesh
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Rakesh

may her soul rest in peace. amma is into deep sleep. i dont know when we will wake up.

manuscrypts
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manuscrypts

peace.. i can identify a lot with this post…

manuscrypts
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manuscrypts

peace.. i can identify a lot with this post…

shamala
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shamala

this reminds me of my grand mom…even she used to sing Taarammaiyya for me

shamala
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shamala

this reminds me of my grand mom…even she used to sing Taarammaiyya for me

ranjita
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ranjita

A very beautifully and vividly written post…

ranjita
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ranjita

A very beautifully and vividly written post…

Shil
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Shil

touching… beautiful shot

Shil
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Shil

touching… beautiful shot

eyememyself
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eyememyself

may her soul rest in peace… reminded me of my grandma’s demise 2 yrs bk…

eyememyself
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eyememyself

may her soul rest in peace… reminded me of my grandma’s demise 2 yrs bk…

The Quark
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The Quark

I never believed that I’d get touched by a photograph. This one changed my belief.

The Quark
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The Quark

I never believed that I’d get touched by a photograph. This one changed my belief.

Pradeep
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Pradeep

Touched ! I wonder if I ever will think twice before shooting a photograph..

Pradeep
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Pradeep

Touched ! I wonder if I ever will think twice before shooting a photograph..

Frances
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Frances

What a lovely tribute to your grandmother.. may she rest in peace…

Frances
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Frances

What a lovely tribute to your grandmother.. may she rest in peace…

bina
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bina

This is very beautiful. Makes me feel closer to my own grandmother. May amma’s soul rest in peace.

bina
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bina

This is very beautiful. Makes me feel closer to my own grandmother. May amma’s soul rest in peace.

Swathi
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Swathi

very beautifully written ….my condolences…..

Swathi
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Swathi

very beautifully written ….my condolences…..

Santhosh Adiga
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Santhosh Adiga

Great post and a lovely photograph.

Santhosh Adiga
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Santhosh Adiga

Great post and a lovely photograph.

Div
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Div

May her soul rest in peace. my deep condolences

Div
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Div

May her soul rest in peace. my deep condolences

Sur
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Sur

I am so sorry for your loss, may her soul rest in peace.The picture of hers touches something deep inside

Sur
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Sur

I am so sorry for your loss, may her soul rest in peace.The picture of hers touches something deep inside

Sanju
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Sanju

Nix, My condolences, I know how it feels. May her soul RIP.

Sanju
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Sanju

Nix, My condolences, I know how it feels. May her soul RIP.

anuj
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anuj

I know how you feel brother.. She was my amma too.. may her soul rest in peace..

anuj
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anuj

I know how you feel brother.. She was my amma too.. may her soul rest in peace..

Vidya
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Vidya

This photograph makes so much more sense now when I know the story, than when I saw it as one in the bunch that you had shot on your trip… Truly touching…

Vidya
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Vidya

This photograph makes so much more sense now when I know the story, than when I saw it as one in the bunch that you had shot on your trip… Truly touching…

Mojo Jojo
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Mojo Jojo

Beautiful post, really. Brought back memories of the time when my grandfather was going through something very much like this…
It’s really sad to see your loved ones pass into a state that’s so different from what they were like earlier…
Your picture speaks a million words.

Mojo Jojo
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Mojo Jojo

Beautiful post, really. Brought back memories of the time when my grandfather was going through something very much like this…It’s really sad to see your loved ones pass into a state that’s so different from what they were like earlier…Your picture speaks a million words.

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[…] When writing on a photograph he took of his grandma, Nishant Ratnakar wrote, in his blog post ‘to amma’: […]