Remember December

December 6. It would be his 39th birthday if he were here. But, of course, I know that he’s not.

Last year, I was in my worst state around his birthday. The literature I read told me it’s expected of someone to hit rock bottom when the birthday of his/her dead spouse/child/loved one is approaching. Because then you’d be faced with the harshness of reality: that the person having a birthday is no longer having birthdays. They stopped aging when they died. Still, you’d refuse to forget their birthday because it is the only thing remaining to prove they once existed, that they once were alive.

This year, I believe I’m stronger than the last. I feel like, now, I can do something about it. So when Multiply announced that they no longer will provide blogging services, I grabbed the opportunity to turn my life around. I made it my personal project to migrate my late husband’s blog AND his photos here.

Multiply set the deadline on November 30, 2012. So I was aiming to meet the deadline and get it ready by his birthday. The blog part was easy. It only took about 30 minutes to settle the whole thing. The photos? Meh. Thanks (but no thanks) to Multiply’s ‘download media’ tool that downloaded all his photos to one designated folder without separating them into album sub-folders AND the fact that my late husband named most of the files with “01.jpg, 02.jpg, …” or “small_01, small_02” and so on (you got the idea), it took me more than a month to finish it.

At first I thought it was going to be a robotic task. You know, open two tabs of browsers and two folders. Move the photos to sub-folders by looking at the original album and then upload the contents of each sub-folder to the new entry here. At first it was. But then it got emotional when I came across pictures of our daughter.. of our old rented house before our daughter came along.. pictures of places that some of them are no longer there.. portraits of people he met along his journey into wet markets, harbors, railways. It made me believe that despite his insistence that he didn’t have a romantic side, I believe he had. He captured not only beautiful, but heart-wrenchingly beautiful, moments. Those “objects” in his photos were not merely objects for him. He involved himself in there. He interacted with them. He identified with them. How easy it was for me to forget that he once lived on the streets, out of school, with no job, only with a set of skills that hardly got appreciated. Those pictures were a reflection of the many lives he lived in this lifetime.

It also amazed me that he took most of the pictures using analog cameras. It used to bother me that he liked to test his cameras’ shutters in our bedroom. Those never-ending clicking sound, oh how I hated it. And oh, how I miss it that I’d do anything to hear him do it again. Believe it or not, he also developed his own negatives. I can still picture him sitting in front of the TV holding the developer tank and I can even still hear the sound of him agitating the tank. He sometimes scanned the negatives if he hadn’t had a chance to go to the photo-printing shop. He also preferred to do his own scanning because he mostly took picture using black & white films and the photo-printing shops only have color printers nowadays. He eventually bought his own black & white enlarger and managed to print his own photos by many trials and errors. It reminded me how diligent and determined he was in doing something. He took up photography as a hobby, but turned it into a passion. As you will see, some of the pictures in the collection were of his experiments.

The photographs you’ll see is not all. I was left with tons of negatives that I have yet to sort out.. or not. But for now I’m proud to say that I managed to achieve the goal I’ve set for myself: to celebrate his birthday this year by re-publishing his photos here in WordPress. I’d be honored if you’d pay a visit to Musta, Harmaa, Valkoinen (Expose for the Shadows; Develop for the Highlights).

Last but not least, I’m not doing it (only) for myself. I’m also doing this for my daughter who’s still too little to understand what really happened to her dad and to (maybe) remember him. Like I said in my Path timeline earlier:

He was not the greatest photographer in the world. Just a man with a camera (or a bunch of them) who took a lot of pictures before his time was up. I hope someday Freya would enjoy her dad’s pics as much as I (and his friends) do.

Happy birthday, Kak. Hope you like my present. May you rest forever in peace.

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