Life in Twelve

An attempt at narrativising the fleeting everyday.

Photos by Tabassum Ansari

Weaving your way through the clamour of crowds and vehicles, you pass by Mandi Crossing Chowk everyday on your way to work. Eyes glued to the ground, in your rush to get to the other side what all do you see, what slips away- you never have time to pause and think about all this.

Can a routine boring day, a predictable journey, an ordinary moment somehow be made ‘special’? When you begin to think of this, your heart flickers like the slow rumbling of the first monsoon cloud. And your fingers feel electric, as if filled with lightning.

Once again, you are standing on the same road, the same crossing. Your phone camera, like your eyes searches through the familiar scenes, looking for details. It is as if you are seeing all of this for the first time- interestedly, lovingly, comfortably, at leisure,
Maybe it was the striking red that caught your attention at first. Or perhaps it was the two men standing amidst the piles. But one thing is certain. Mandi Chowk will no longer be an ordinary, mundane crossing for you ever again. Now, whenever you pass by, you will look out for that shop filled with flowers. And surely you will think something. This much is definite, that’s all.

1

Near Mandi Crossing roundabout in Luknow, there is a small flower shop run by an uncle and his nephew.

2

Lost in deep thought, the uncle is busy working on a bouquet – How attached I feel to these flowers now.

3

Some in full bloom, others half open, all these flowers seem to say something special. How their beauty calls out to us!

4

The pile of stray petals fills the air with their fragrance. Passersby stop to admire them, soaking in the smell.

5

The bouquets are impatiently waiting to be picked up. When will they become the star of a celebration!

6

Sitting around, Chotu’s eyes are searching for people to drop in and buy the flowers.

7

A rickshaw driver walks in. Chotu’s eyes light up- At last, a customer!

8

He starts showing various flowers to the man- “What kind of a bouquet do you want? What party are you going to?” Hands tied behind his back, the rickshaw driver replies- “ Arrey, as if I will go to a party?

9

The rickshaw driver picks up a flower, thinking to himself- Should I take one of these, or buy an entire bouquet?

10

Sprinkling water on the flowers, Chotu begins to suspect that this person will not buy anything after all! The driver pulls out one flower- How much?

11

Even though he will not buy anything, he wants to know the price of everything!- Chotu thinks. The rickshaw driver smiles gently- “Give me this one.” “This is for 200”, says Chotu continuing with his work.

12

The rickshaw driver looks lovingly at the bouquet in his hands- Today is our wedding anniversary. I want to give this to my wife.
Tabassum Ansari lives in Hussainabad, Lucknow. Making films and photos is of immense interest to her. The relationship between the Real and Imagined; how do these two elements interact and nourish each other; the meanings that can emerge through this interplay- Tabassum has been attempting to work on these processes and questions. She works with the Sadbhavna Trust in Lucknow and is TTE’s Digital Educator.

Translation from Hindi by Ruchika Negi.

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