The Family Photo (Short Story)

a short story by praveen singhmar

They all had come in for the birthday party and were waiting in the lawns for the lunch to open when he asked them to gather around the fountain for a group picture. A few of them complied with him, especially the children. The elders did not really bother to move. So he requested again and so a few more moved and settled down at the stairs near the fountain.

The camera did not have a tripod to support itself and because he also wanted to be a part of the picture, he used an abandoned cot to place the camera on. But he figured out that the cot was too low for the height of the stairs and so he needed to pile up the cot with some books and other articles before he can put the camera over it. While he was tirelessly piling up the cot, the objects of the picture grew impatient and a few started scattering around. So now he had to talk to the group to keep them from moving while also trying to adjust the camera on the piled up cot. He had achieved a little success in his ordeal when a gentle wind blew down the pile of old books and empty chocolate boxes. He somehow managed to save the camera.

Suddenly it occurred to him that if he turned the cot horizontally up, it would allow him the perfect height for the picture. He hastened into turning it up but it was heavy. Meanwhile, the impatient crew had already started to depart from the stairs chattering among themselves. He panicked and lost hold of the cot, an iron leg of which fell directly over his left foot. It was painful. Yet he concealed the pain in order to not let go of the task at hand. His voice squealed as he again requested the family members to sit down for the picture. They could hardly hear him.

Finally, he managed to turn up the cot and placed his camera over it. But by this time, most of the people had left for the lunch and a few were blocking the frame. He asked the unruly blockers to settle down in the stairs for the shoot, but they were so engrossed in their discussion that they did not take notice of him. He felt awful. So he walked up to them and directed them to the stairs. They reluctantly moved away without looking at him.

Half of the family members were eating lunch by now and half of the other half was not interested in the picture. The rest had settled down in the stairs with the fountain running behind them. It was a beautiful view for the greenery of the lawns in the serene climate of sweet November. But when he looked it through the camera, he found that the frame had more trees than humans. He now had to move the cot closer to the stairs so that the image could be focused more upon its objects. So he slowly dragged the heavy cot with a lot of care.

By this time, a few more had moved out of the frame and so the bushes had grown in size again. So he moved further and reached almost at the feet of the stairs. Now, he could frame the members fully and focally. There were eight of them left, including him.

He tried to switch on the camera’s timer so that he could then sit on the stairs and be a part of the picture. But he could not find a timer. He realized that the camera was an old one and did not have a timer. In sheer frustration he swore loudly at the sky and decided that he would not be a part of the family photo. He turned around to take the photo of the remaining members only to find that nobody was there.

He sat down at the stairs and took a selfie.

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