Importance of Photography in Hema and Kaushik Essay examples

Submitted By mailkamir
Words: 2120
Pages: 9

The Importance of Photography in “Hema and Kaushik” According to Google, “a picture made using a camera, in which an image is focused onto film or other light-sensitive material and then made visible and permanent by chemical treatment, or stored digitally,” but they are much more than that in Jhumpa Lahiri’s “Hema and Kaushik” collection of short stories from “Unaccustomed Earth”. Photographs are important parts of everyone’s lives. They provide us with a reference to go back to if we want to remember something, or remind us of a better time. They give us expectations of a person and perhaps a first impression. In this compilation, the importance of photography changes along with Kaushik’s character throughout all three short stories. Photographs start of as a projection of what a person wants or a time and place that someone wants to remember. Kaushik thinks of pictures as a part of the past that he yearns for, but as he grows older, he begins to look through the camera as a way of distance.
The beginning of the compilation begins with a photograph. In “Once in a Lifetime,” Hema, a young Indian girl is notified that some family friends are going to stay in her apartment for a little while. Her parents have a photo album at home which Hema goes through, so when she finds pictures of the Choudhuris, she studies them in order to find out what they look like. The man looks official, dressed in a neat suit and tie. The woman is beautiful, her hair accentuating “the narrow length of her face.”1 Hema observes from the picture that the woman and her mother are very good friends with an apparent bond. Hema takes in these observations slowly and then looks for a picture of Kaushik, their son, but cannot find one. She spends a while thinking about Kaushik and what he was doing while the picture was being taken. She imagines him in her parent’s room reading a book to himself quietly which is odd considering how Hema herself barely remembers him. By imagining Kaushik’s person in the picture, she sets herself up for a fantasy: an expectation. She expects Kaushik’s parents to look the same and for Kaushik to be as how she thinks of him, but her reunion with them denies her expectations. Though Kaushik’s father looks “more or less the same,”2 Kaushik’s mother’s appearance changes. Her hair is different and her face is heavy with makeup. Even her relationship with Hema’s mother is different than what it was a few years ago. It also turns out that Kaushik and Hema’s mothers do not have as strong of a bond as Hema thought. Hema’s mother is constantly annoyed by how little Kaushik’s mother does around the house and how Kaushik’s husband gives her too much affection. Kaushik also turns out to be different from what Hema expected. She never thought that she would find him “appealing in the least”3. Hema in the beginning has projected a false expectation or even a fantasy of Kaushik’s family based on the picture she is shown. She has taken something from the past – only one moment – and made so much falsities from just the one. It shows that nothing stays the same. Meanwhile, Kaushik takes pictures of inanimate objects: things that can be changed. He takes pictures for aesthetic pleasure and for reminding himself of a place he has seen. Kaushik thinks of his pictures at this point as a means of happiness, not an expectation of anything.
In “Year’s End,” the second story in the compilation, the focus shifts from Hema’s family to Kaushik’s a few months after his family leaves Hema’s house. Kaushik starts to connect his photos and his camera to memories, some of which he keeps and some of which he throws away. At the start, Kaushik’s mother has already passed away from the breast cancer and he is left devastated by her loss. While he is still mourning, Kaushik receives news that his father has remarried someone. He visits his father and his new wife during a break in college and arrives in his old house to see that all of the memories Kaushik