When You Can’t Remember Loss

James Bekenawei on Loss

The only thing that hurts more than a bad picture is a lost picture.

Most times, to cement the details of an event in my mind, I take pictures. A picture is a frozen moment from a string of moments. Behind every photo, there is a story; behind every story, there is a past. The emotions that the images evoke give photos meaning.

“James, all our efforts today were wasted. We lost all the pictures,” Tunde said. I had just finished dinner and wanted to settle for a movie marathon when he called. “A virus attack or something. It affected the camera’s memory card also, so we can’t get the raw pictures.”

Hours spent selecting, sorting, and editing wasted. An entire day’s shoot, gone with the wind. The story behind each photo forgotten before it is told.

I delved into photography by accident. I have always loved pictures and have an archive of exotic photos. One day I took a photo with a friend’s phone and he loved it. It dawned on me then that I could create photographs not just collect them; that I could freeze time for the future because memory dims and forgetting happens. A blunt pencil is better than the sharpest memory, a blurred camera lens than the clearest mind.

Women who lose their babies carry the pain forever. My mom has five of us, but she still talks about the one that didn’t make it. That loss hurts her even though it’s been more than thirty years. Losing photos is the closest I have come to how my mom feels. I hold on to the carcasses of damaged hard drives because letting them go means accepting that the memories stored in them are forever lost. Sometimes, I survey the hard drives and wonder, why. Why didn’t I back everything up? Why didn’t I upgrade my cloud storage when I could? But the hard drives do not answer, they stare back and dare me to cherish memories I no longer remember.

One of my greatest fears is losing my memory—of waking up and discovering I can’t remember anything—and that even my writings and photographs, which I employed to freeze moments, can’t help jumpstart my memory, because they are lost. I fear losing an extension of myself via lost memories and photos.

In my desire to freeze moments for Throwback Thursday, I often let things go unnoticed and become unmindful of the emotions the camera cannot capture. Behind every photo, there is a story. But of what use is a story if it does not evoke the emotions that bind us to it? The remedy I’ve found is in the poem, If, by Rudyard Kipling: [to] fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run. To enjoy the moment, rather than merely freezing it.

© James Bekenawei 2017

Bekenawei James Robert loves to tell pictures, snap stories, and to question answers. He can be found on Instagram and Twitter as @bekexjj. He blogs at 4unansweredprayers.

Photo credit: https://pixabay.com/en/sony-slt-a58-camera-sony-2033999/

©Timi Yeseibo 2017

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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What Do I Look Like?

selfie

The mirror in an uncrowded elevator is an invitation to look at myself, as are the floor-to-ceiling display windows in the mall. Rarely do I say no. Ever notice that when presented with a group photograph, your eyes search for you first?  Is this vanity or normal self-absorption? I have sixty-one selfies on my phone. Perhaps I should not call them selfies. The Oxford Dictionary defines a selfie as a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media. Not one of my digital self-portraits is uploaded on my social networks.

My favourite ‘selfies’ are those where I employed the tricks my eighteen-year-old friend taught me to make a selfie not resemble a selfie. All that posing and angling, so I look as though my photo is the view from another’s lens, why?

Apart from a desire to pretend that I did not tilt my head, tuck in my chin, suck in my cheeks, and find the best lighting, before stretching my hand to click, I want to try to replicate an unguarded moment—what others see when I am unaware that they are looking at me, an honest picture of me. But a selfie is manipulation, a digitally enhanced, filtered, and cropped representation of how I want to see myself and how I want others to see me.

I find selfies useful as picture diaries to share privately with friends, but too subjective to tell me what I really look like. Sam Anderson captures this paradox in his New York Times‘ article. He begins by asking: What do you look like?

You are the world’s leading authority on the subject. You have studied your face for many years, with life-or-death intensity, in almost every mirror and tinted car window and unrippled pond you have ever passed. You are the Sir Isaac Newton of your own face: the one true discoverer of its laws of motion, its particular gravity.

You are also, simultaneously, the very least qualified person in the world to know what you look like. You have no idea. You have never actually seen your face — not truly, from the outside, the way other people see it. This is because of a nonnegotiable quirk of the human anatomy: You have to use your own face to look at your face. You are both observer and observed.

Is this why we ask others, “How do I look?”

As a child, my mother was the first yardstick I used to measure my looks by. When people called me little Gina, alluding to our resemblance, I realized I was beautiful. External validation aids self-perception. I have wished on occasion that I could step out of my body and see myself. The next best thing is my reflection in the eyes of those I trust, a realistic picture that transcends the selfies on my phone.

 

Related: Beauty, A First-Class Ticket
                A Fading Glory

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2015

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Picture Your Story

picture your story

Ever noticed how newspapers use photographs of public figures? If Obama scores a big one, we get smiling Obama, maybe with a fist pump. When the roof caves in, we get tight-lipped, greying, worry lines Obama. All underneath screaming headlines. If the paper has integrity, we are not disappointed with the text that follows, our minds having been conditioned for it. They say we see with our eyes and we see with our minds.

And yet after I left primary school, my books, whether novels or textbooks, were devoid of images except for academic (boring), charts, graphs, drawings, and photos illustrating the concept being taught, as if to say, now that you’ve mastered comprehension, you don’t need visual aids or we want you to concentrate, no mucking around!

The web changed everything. Of course, it had to since everyone became a (potential) content provider. The downside of information overload is digital ADD. Mixing text with pictures and videos means we might win the scramble for eight seconds of surfing attention. However, beyond this, I integrate photos with text because it breaks monotony and can say what words cannot, helping to build emotional connections. Moreover, we decipher meaning from images, adding to the reading experience.

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it might not tell the whole story. Perhaps that’s why on the web, text continues to dominate information exchange and videos, which combine visuals and words, are on the rise.

Visual art and writing don’t exist on an aesthetic hierarchy that positions one above the other, because each is capable of things the other can’t do at all. Sometimes one picture is equal to 30 pages of discourse, just as there are things images are completely incapable of communicating. – William S. Burroughs –

After writing an article, I hunt for images that complement it. During my search, I encounter photos that have nothing to do with the text, which haunt me and inspire me to manufacture a story, like this one.

Boy by Greyerbaby

The right story hasn’t come along for this image yet, but I can’t wait any longer. Let’s find the story together. You don’t need to be a writer, just human. Tell what the photo evokes in you. There is no right or wrong, because we see the sun at different times. Day for me may be night for you. You can write your headline (title) in sentence caps and/or a few lines of the story. Indulge me, please? I’ll start.

 

The Boy Who Stole Tomorrow

Truth did not have consequences when we were young, so we exchanged it freely as though playing Ping-Pong. Some days you won. Other days I won. We did not keep score but maintained equilibrium until she came. Then, you made me lose more than I should have.

————–

P.s. Like seriously? Of course there’s no prize, I’m not Oprah! Alright then, just comment on how multimedia content enhances online interaction. See? Told ya! The story option is easier 😉

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2014

 

Photo credit: Photo credit: ©Lisa Runnels/www.pixabay.com (used with permission)

http://pixabay.com/en/boy-walking-teddy-bear-child-walk-447701/

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Facebook Fraud

Laurita FB

Laurita Laurita, oh Laurita Laurita! Your name has a sing-song and unreal quality to it. I do not know how you found me and why you singled me out. Facebook has made the world smaller, but there are around one billion people in the world’s third-largest country. Ah yes, we have one mutual friend. What you both have in common still baffles me.  

I am an editor second, and a nice person first, which is why I refrained from deleting your early morning ungrammatical intrusion into my inbox. I checked your wall and saw that your last and only status update before you changed your profile picture was in Russian. You recently changed your Facebook language to English (US), which may explain why you sound as if you used Google Translate, and then copy and paste.

I am fine, thank you for asking and your marital status is of no consequence to me. So you think Facebook is too small to contain the breadth of a friendship with you. No wonder you barely have anything on your wall since you joined Facebook in October 2012. You prefer to catch your victims friends by email.

Your profile picture is beautiful. Your eyes look photoshopped, but what does that matter when your skin looks like smooth caramel latte. Your hair; was that not how Naomi Campbell styled hers, the beautiful centre-part look that I tried in vain to achieve during my teenage years? But I am neither a voyeur nor model scout so I do not want more photos of you.

There is something you should know about me.  I am not as foolish as you suppose I am. Anybody whose name reminds me of Chivita Chivita must have a big head and a small brain. I have therefore written this cease and desist order, Прекратить и порядка, to you.

Laurita oh Laurita

Whether man or woman, I do not know

Whether girl or boy, I do not care

There are many fishes in the sea

Waiting to swallow your bait

But I am not one of them

Laurita oh Laurita

Whether Nigerian 419, it is hard to tell

Whether Russian 419, it is hard to sell

There are many fishes in the sea

Waiting to swallow your bait

But I am not one of them

Laurita oh Laurita

Whether Yahoo Yahoo, na you know

Whether Facebook fraud, na today?

There are many fishes in the sea

Waiting to swallow your bait

But I am not one of them

Laurita oh Laurita

Whether Nigerian or Caucasian, long throat no get colour

Whether Scandinavian or Asian, greed sabi follow follow

There are many fishes in the sea

Waiting to swallow your bait

But I am not one of them

I reject it; I will not be one of them

Laurita oh Laurita

May Facebook delete your account

May our mutual friend wise up and “unfriend” you

May you shudder in apprehension whenever you see my name

May remorse overtake you like a Nigerian politician who did not loot enough before the end of his second term

 

In this vast global village

Let me not be a victim of identity thief

Let someone not steal my profile picture

And call himself Bournvita Bournvita

 

 

Okay can somebody tell me what these Facebook scammers want?

 

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2013

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Image credit: ©Timi Yeseibo 2013