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Photo Essays

Swastik Pal | My Uncle Tukka

Calcutta, India- 17-01-2012. ” Returning home after a brief walk near the house.”
[W]hen I was seven, my uncle was in his late twenties. Today I am twenty and he in his late forties; it’s been a long journey of twenty years. This project, if at all I can call it a project is a tribute to my uncle. This is a very personal project.
My uncle lost his hearing and speaking ability at a very tender age due to medical negligence and financial incapability of his family at that time. Years of social isolation led to his unstable mental condition as well. Though many can be held responsible for his state, to begin with the family itself, the social attitude towards the disabled and many more. In my work here, I do not tend to blame anyone, find reason or talk of any social issue related to his situation.
This is my personal tribute to a man, a human being who continues to live in utmost silence for more than four decades now. This is just about him, the way he is, with all his perfections and imperfections. One life, one room and how he passes one day at a time. His world clock perhaps is very slow, silent and very different from our competitive world clock. This is his own little space, a room of 10×10, his own and only world.
I wanted to be a voice, perhaps his response to the way he perceives the world. His waking up to the morning sun, his little luncheon, his fear of the dark, his frustrations, his pain, his little world of amusement and also his dreams perhaps. Maybe these are my desperate wish and hope to give his practically non-existent life a befitting tribute. He continues to live with me and my family, a silent presence amongst us.

Calcutta, India- 12-01-2012. “The Room.”
Calcutta, India- 16-01-2012. “My uncle in a very sad mood.”
Calcutta, India- 05-07-2012. “He usually wakes up early and gets done with his daily chores.”
Calcutta, India-17-01-2012. “Lunch time.”
Calcutta, India-11-01-2012. “He saves his pocket money under the mattress, to hide it from others.”
Calcutta, India-11-01-2012. “Sometimes he writes. His own language perhaps. “
Calcutta, India-09-09-2012. “He is a very talented self-taught Kite maker.Here my cousin sister looks curiously as he makes a kite.”
Calcutta, India-22-01-2012. “He is very scared of the dark. Usually he sleeps alone in this room.”
Calcutta, India-15-01-2012. “My cousin sister helping him with some drinking water”
Calcutta, India-17-05-2012. “Often he does not get sleep. Even when he sleeps it’s for short hours.”
Calcutta, India-23-01-2012. “I gave some of his photographs printed. He looked intensely for a long time.I was scared about how he would react. He turned back to the wall and clapped.”
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