Friday, February 26, 2010


Recently, I attended a photography exhibit. One photo there, in particular, remains vivid in my mind. At home, I searched for its reproduction online. When I found the image, I pored over those faces looking through the windows of a trolley car. Their expressions were varied, each framed by a window.

With a click of his camera, Robert Frank, the photographer, has captured a defined moment in each of his subject's life. I see an impassive face - haughty- his cold gaze seems to settle on me. In contrast, I see another face, this one marked with pain, his head tilted towards the outside world, a pleading look in his eyes. I imagine the trolley rolling away, its occupants immured inside, their frozen expressions softening, changing as they disappear into the distance. I wonder what threads of happiness or sadness run through their lives, the photo allowing me only glimpses of one indelible moment.

I see my patient's composed face as she sits waiting for me. I enter the room and sit down across from her. She holds her features tightly. After awhile as we talk, her face shades into tears. She feels frustrated, unable to get her weight down since the birth of her last child. She is only thirty but already she has a bad back. She blames this on her weight. She's afraid of developing diabetes like her mom, or like her grandmother whose kidneys shut down at the end of life.

I see her calm features gradually crumple. We sit together and work on a plan for weight loss. She knows it will not be easy but she is willing to try again.

Sitting with my companions at a cafe after the photo exhibit, I am nursing a cup of tea. My energy is flagging and I choose a black tea, a 1st flush Darjeeling.

We are huddled in a corner next to the large window filtering a dusky sunlight. I see the unruffled surface of the liquor of my tea, hazy in the dimming cafe. Expectant, I take the first sip and I wait for the tea to reveal itself to me. Warm and brisk, the placid surface gradually parts and other layers come forth. Subtle sweetness with a hint of molasses gives way to a floral earthiness. Other flavors continue to unfold, coaxed a little by time and patience.


オテモヤン said...
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Marilyn said...

Tea can soothe the edges of a rough day.

G. Rudner said...

Another poignant and fantastic piece. I saw the Robert Frank photos recently at the MOMA-loved them as well. Always look forward to the weekend to hit my favourites and read your latest.

Cha sen said...

I may have to make a special trip to NYC just to see the MOMA exhibit! It sounds great.