Saturday, November 26, 2011

Triggers of Imagination for Writer

What's my favorite photo?

That's hard to say, the answer changes from moment to moment. I had prepped a certain picture to write about, but I look up, and there's my father in a relaxed pose, his weight on his left leg, he is leaning against a door post, his shirttails out, hands in pants' pockets, pipe in his mouth. This must be a photo of him I've studied the least. I've got to get up from my desk and take the garrrish framed picture (why on earth did my mother chose such an ornate molded metal design?) from "Papa's Chest" —most of the inherited furniture I've shipped across the ocean has similar possessive descriptions— to take a closer look.

No, I was wrong, no hanging shirttails, he's wearing a light colored, 3/4 unzipped jacket on a white tee-shirt and dark slacks. From the sheen and cut, I take it the jacket material could be a lightweight suede, but it could also be a gabardine. The trousers still have the high waistband, the buckle of his belt is positioned under his midrif. I like his shoes, are they suede? He looks trim and tan, he has a short moustache, and his hair is short, but growing out.

At first glance it seems he's standing just outside the door of a shop, behind the store's window you can see frames, is it a frame shop? The brick wall brings to the surface another photograph though, one where he's seated on a chair of a rustic terrace set, he used on the porch of his beach front house in Zandvoort. No, no, no. Stay with the first picture!

There's a small plaque on the door jamb, underneath that a simple white on black push bell. this could be a store or a home, I don't know and most likely will never know. My father was born in 1898 and died in 1969, his contemporaries are all dead. Still, I try to fit the pieces of his life together, bit by bit an image of a man I only new for a short time, appears. This framed photograph is the one my mother chose to have out in the open. Illness, old age and death took that man away from her, and yet, what remains is the memory. This may be how my father looked when my mother first set eyes on him. And so my story starts ...

Writers are often told to write what they know, but don't we really write to discover what we don't know? I for one am always searching for the hidden message, whether it's truth or just a figment of my imagination.

This work by Judith van Praag is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
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