No depiction will ever do this angel, or the bygone wonder within her, persisting through the darkest ages of dementia, ample justice.
There, on the ebony bench, rests a woman with a mind that has devoured itself to the point of erasure. The countless decades are carved within the crinkles of her face, and her skin, a sheet stretched far too thin, exposes the outlines of her creaking, fatigued bones. The blood rushing through her body has slackened in vigor – it no longer flushes her face as it once did. Her hair, initially surging, is fine, fresh snow, surrounded by crystallized wisps of freezing mist. She is the epitome of all that is ancient and, yet, one area of her appearance remains unscathed by Father Time and his all-too-cruel staff: her pupils. The fleeting years failed to find home within either stubborn iris; they survive in a state liberated from her affliction.
She sits, a human being who is no longer present in cognizance, one who has endured corporeal aging and cerebral decay. This woman is nearing the final inhalations of her lifetime. Therefore, they believe that nothing remains for her to contribute to the world, and that, for her, the world holds naught…
They’re profoundly mistaken.
She is unaware of the reality which cloaks her, so she becomes immersed in her own – a universe drawn to completion by decades evanescent. Without warning, her hands begin dancing ever-so-gracefully along the strokes of the piano. She exerts no extraordinary effort – her fingers are home, blood siblings to the keys on this organ she’s only just encountered. The woman exhales more antiquity into the air with each and every immaculate note which flows naturally through her – this, from a person who can no longer conjure up her own name or brandish a spoon.
Our protagonist declines to slip away from the precincts of the intricate melody she conducts; the silver-speckled heroine doesn’t acquit a single note as her fingers glide across the polished instrument, nor does she dare to insert any erroneous chords into the deeply doleful tune which radiates from her comprehensive, yet crumbling, core.
The past, which has encumbered her for ages, relentlessly erupts from this woman who can only recall her craft, her life’s pursuit, her heaving and hammering heart. This marvel was nestled within the inmost corners of this woman, scarcely screening itself for the near century she has glided among us, remaining shrouded until it could finally have the full, undivided attention of the audience. After an era of elusiveness, it saw its moment and seized it.
Now, our heroine’s miracle fiercely reverberates around the narrow chamber, crafted from the frail fingers of a perishing human being. For being made to dwell in obscurity, it vacuums every last bit of oxygen from the spectators’ bodies and all musings from their minds. It adamantly demands their full attention, the full engagement of their bodies and their souls as it grants them its most magnificent gift of all.
Thus, her axiom, so hauntingly beautiful, becomes inescapable. When that woman’s chief phenomenon takes its final curtsy and retires from the stage, its hallowed audience is left wholly devoid of the present and, instead, inexplicably overwhelmed by the echoes of the past.
Essay and photograph are the exclusive creations and property of Ami J. Sanghvi.
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