I was glad when I was contacted to shoot a photo that showed the effects of the lockdown on Mumbai. My photography practice has always documented the physical world and during these past few months that world had been shut down. It would be the first time in four months that I’d go outside with my camera.
I took myself to the sea that has been part of my childhood and adult years — whether it was zipping down Marine Drive on the back of my dad’s scooter or photographing Parsis at prayer on the day and month of Ava, the water divinity; for me, the sea fronts are the most iconic feature of our city.
I found this couple deep in conversation, she seemed agitated, and he was comforting her by just listening. He glanced up, saw me with my camera, I gestured to ask if it was okay to shoot — he nodded “yes” — went back to her and never glanced at me again.
What this photo says to me is that our need for human touch and physical contact will never disappear. It also shows that the sea is where we go to for our heart-to-heart talks, for recreation, a breather, and some calm. Our seafronts are democratic spaces that speak to all, attract all.
I took many frames of this couple. I have no idea what she was speaking about. I can only hope that this conversation on this evening by the sea gave her some comfort, some ‘sukoon’.
(As told to Paroma Mukherjee)
Sooni Taraporevala is a chronicler of Mumbai. She is a photographer, an award-winning screenwriter and National Award-winning filmmaker. She won the Padma Shri in 2014.