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My days grew better, there were less sudden black-out on me. I was more pumped to live every single day out of taking good pictures imperfectly, not emphatically. We grew closer to each other, we took tonnes of photos with our broken lens, most of them were just random shots of authenticity- a regression to the mean, but some were out of the blue- pure bliss to the eyes.
We still had not change our lens. She insisted that we kept them on, as a hindering factor, a springboard, a challenge to build us stronger in our photography skills. We kept taking pictures. This had become our routine for a week or so.
We did go to the Cam’s band practice to have a look-out. It was awkward as I was in front of my apparent crush. Jannah was totally cool about it, but she constantly nudged me to talk more to Cam. The boys got hold of Jannah for most of the time, leaving me and Cam to have more ‘space’, the cavity filled with awkwardness.
Of course, we took pictures once more as they were practicing, comparing them once they were done. I caught a fairly ordinary picture, but Jannah exclaimed that it was good. It was Zach on his drums, professionally, utterly rivetted into what he was doing. The details and the lighting were on point which depicted him in a different shed of light.
“What if we compile, randomly, the shots we took with broken lens, and post them into a social media, do you think people will like it?” she said in a jest as we slurped our day off with bubble tea after hanging out with the band.
That idea was absurd, “definitely no one will be in the right mind to look at them.” I took another slurp. The evening splendor of the sun was stunning, catching both our photographer instincts at once. She did what a photographer would do, lifted up the camera to capture the sunset.
I instantaneously followed suit, but my aperture was not directed into the sun nor the tangy sky, but rather into her face. Tweaking some settings, I hit the shutter release a number of times, as I knew, this would someday be my tour de force.
The fatigue hit me once again, this time was a rough one. My camera slipped out from my hand, the world in front of me turned into a total darkness. A glimpse of her coughing violently, her hands which covered her cough was dabbed with the crimson red blood, I could not react as darkness overwhelmed me indefinitely.
“You have approximately a few more days left.” The doctor reported, executing his responsibility dutifully, “just spend them wisely, here are some pills to suppress the acute coughing and pain, but it will dwindle your span of life even faster.”
I knew this day would come, “stay here for a few days to do some check-ups.” Silence was prominent in the ward, but I felt bad for having to leave him there, and giving him any cues to my whereabouts. “and your friend’s case is much worse, he is going blind.”
“What? This could not happen! He needs his eyes…” I was agitated
“I will donate my eyes to him once I’m gone.” The doctor was shocked, my tone was asserted with my persistence.
The doctor did not say any more words, he went out, got a piece of paper- a contract, “sign here.” As I signed my name off, he asked, “Why do you want to give him your eyes?”
“He is a wonderful photographer.”
I told the doctor not to inform him of this eye problem. As the doctor disappeared to carry out his duties, I took out the camera, looked through the span of our days spent together as photography friends. Tears rolled down my cheeks, it was blood. I could not possibly meet him at this state. The doctor might be right, I still had a few more days left. I checked the calendar near me, realizing that three days had passed since that incident.
The concert was tonight. As long I got to see him for the one last time, I took a handful of the pills, chugged them into my system, a sense of rejuvenation hit me, temporarily.
Why did she leave me? The immediate question once I woke up finding myself in a ward. “We found you out cold at the campus ground alone.” The doctor said to me, “a bad news for you, the fatigue that you built up for the past few months culminated into some sort of sickness, take these pills to cure them.”
I was let out of the hospital on that day. Two days before the concert. I went to a total omission of life, I shut myself in my room for two whole days, just to ponder upon what life was in these few days.
“Yo, the concert is tonight.” Jeff reminded me. I collected my broken pieces, stitched them back, “And a girl passed me a set of lens for you.” My heart leapt with relief. I got out immediately, dressed up, rushed to the grounds of the concert.
Camera in my hands, I had a premonition, but I stayed calm. I sought her out in the midst of the peoples. She was standing there, taking pictures as usual, a duty of a photographer. I was struck by her perfect imperfections, realizing that she was a jewel in my eyes, too late.
I pushed my way through the throng of people. She saw me, waved to me with an unusually broad smile hanging on her face. I hugged her tightly, the crowd was still indulging in the concert. She was holding back her sob when we were hugging, seconds felt like inextricable moments.
We rocked back and forth gently with the jazzy music of the concert. Something was telling me that, “Are you okay?” my first words to her since the long disappearance, I could feel something different in her breathing. It was weaker. We tore each other apart from our embrace.
‘Cause it’s too cold whoa
For you here and now
So let me hold whoa
Both your hands in the holes of my sweater
Cam was starting, both of us fixated our gaze into her direction. We knew what to do. Cameras in both of our hands, adjusting with the new lens, we made our way on stage, stood at different points, took a couple of shots.
One love, two mouths
One love, one house
No shirt, no blouse
Just us, you find out
Nothing that I wouldn’t wanna tell you about, no no
Cam’s voice struck me into a deadpan expression. I forgot about Jannah, I was stupefied by her voice, I was standing there, pinned at that spot, hitting the shutter release like a madman. The perfectionist in me was gone, I was able to take the shots without having being hindered by the passive voice inside me.
As Cam was closing off, I saw Jannah retreated into a spot at the back stage, I rushed myself there. Something was wrong. Very wrong.
I ran to the direction, darkness was attempting to engulf me, Not now! I kept on running, but could not outpace darkness. Collapsed.
Waking up once again in the ward, “Where’s Jannah?” I sprang back to life frantically.
“Calm down…” Wendy consoled me, the doctor was standing at a corner. “She’s gone.” Hollowness struck me, I did not know how to react.
“Wha… How?” Wendy told me the whole story, she was one of the people who pulled this whole act up. She told me about Jannah’s backstory, and her having the privilege to have the “Make A Wish” chance, Jannah chose to get to know me, to impact me with her presence for the last of her days.
A concoction of depression and uncertainty, nothingness hit me. Depression was by my side, I crying more than I should. “and she donated her lens to you.”
“Her cornea.” The doctor interjected, explaining all that was happening behind the scenes.
“She left this for you.” Wendy handed me the broken lens, and a hard disk.
I was left alone. I needed to get hold of myself.
A familiar voice rang into me, “When will our photos that we took with broken lens be up?” fainting into the back of my mind, I had to fulfill her final wishes.
I did what she wanted, our nascent dream, nurturing it into a reality. I won the trending page for weeks with my ‘broken’ photos, starting a hype among the photography community, more and more people took photos with broken lens.
As I took myself for a hike in the mountains with my camera, I looked into the beautiful sunset. Tears started to roll down my cheeks, her tears. Nothing stopped me anymore, not even a hint of perfectionist in me, I took whatever that felt worth taking.
After pressing the shutter release, I looked into the gallery. The photo was magnificent, it was akin to the times we spent together- an ephemeral ethereal click of lenses.
Previously : Broken Lens #6
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