The Polaroid: A Short Story By Sayenath Sajjad Khan

The polaroid - a short story by Sayenath Sajjad Khan - Peaceful Writers International

Saturday nights aren't my kind of fun. Amidst the subtle parties and endless bouts of wines and drugs, the glimmering dance floor serves too many sins on a platter. Unasked, uninvited, every moment spent on the dance floor is an open-end invitation to a string of one night stands, chaos and jobless days.'When you are nothing more than a petty wedding photographer, you aren't given much choice on the type of mistakes you want to end up with.'That is what I was told every time I went back to Illinois during Summers.

The greenwoods of Illinois are strikingly in contrast with the dark booths and bars. The only fusion between the two-'Brian's Bistro'. For weddings in the countryside, and for Bachelor's Party alike it has been an infamous spot for God knows how many years! Now, one might wonder what does Brian's Bistro concerns a rookie part-time wedding photographer with! Call it fate, lack of choice, poor decision making or a lineage of catastrophic career advice for Brian's Bar was good for nothing photographer's  Uncle's family business. So, I ended up with a second-hand DSLR(because the first hands were too much to pay for after rents and cursed telephone bills) and a Polaroid camera at a dark corner in the flashy lights at Brian's.

The only possible good thing that came out of it was, I was allowed to stand and snap people who were willing to pose and get a free snap of memories-both good and bad. Happy, chummy couples, old men with their tales of good old days, grey-haired women who have had enough bucks to sleep with young men and of beautiful ladies who by an error of destiny got dumped by their 'half-minded asshole dates' as they call it.

"Congratulations Clark! Big deal champ!"

Five words that had stomped my head since that evening. For everyone whom I have called my friend, the idea of me being an assistant of assistant photographer at "The Warner's Wedding" was a b-i-g deal. Two possible reasons for that could be, first: I was a shameless man who would turn down every good,nepotism-oriented job, second: The Warner's were rich enough to pay $1000 per hour to the assistant of the assistant photographer! To celebrate the once in a blue moon event, we gathered where we could afford drinks without crazy bills- Brian's and for what felt like the hundredth time, Carlos had chimed in the five-good-words. Again.

"Drinks are on the house. It's Saturday, enjoy your time boys!"

Uncle Brian announced loud and the Supreme Seven of the bunch of sinners were overjoyed. That's what we were. Carlos, Michael, Carol, Celeste, Andrew, Matt and I-a bunch of fucked-up-seven-sinners.We just wanted to enjoy life and didn't mind whether we stayed in line or overstepped the boundaries. But this time it was different. Photography was a way to capture the beauty around me. The light that illuminated the hollow void of this dark world, photography to me was my way to appreciate the goodness in bad things. From tears of a broken heart to the fears dissolved in drunken eyes; the polaroids kept the moments captivated, the beauty innate and the sight captured forever. I, for once didn't want to fuck up the only chance of getting better in life. I didn't want to let go of the sole opportunity I had of making it big in photography!

The dim corners of the booth were crowded with small skirts and ripped jeans. Joy rolled in the endless glasses raised for a cheer. A couple of college graduates lost their sanity to the pesky shots till they passed out right on the bar. But, the only uncanny thing that stirred a wave of amusement in the dull night was her.

Dark brown eyes that glimmered under the fairy lights and a striking red lipstick that adored her full lips. Batty eyelashes smiled and laughed every time she moved. Wavy locks of thick-blonde hair ended where her waist turned to adore the curve of her hips. Netted stocks faintly curtained the bare of her thighs that could make any man drop down on his knees. Her knee-length black dress left too little to the imagination, while every sight of her ignited a thousand desires in the not so pretty thoughts of a man who had flocked around her. An extrovert, she seemed to enjoy the attention the flock of admirers had given to her. She danced with ease, never missing a beat. Her bosom brushing against her partner in a way that could seduce saints. She was a devil dressed like a goddess and there was no second thought to the fact that she reigned her territory with finesse. A muse, I couldn't take my eyes from.

"What are you looking at?"

A voice interrupted my thoughts midway.

"Nothing." Jerk.

I spurted out to Matt who had already been high after ten hurried shots. He had eyed twenty gals, danced with ten and was already about to make a move on another one when he had stopped by. Good genes and bad habits do no good to rich brats. Matt was a walking example of the same! Brown-haired, dimple cheeked, couple bills in his pocket and those sea-blue eyes. There wasn't a girl whom he couldn't get. And that was what concerned me...Not that girl for heaven's sake. I uttered a silent prayer.

"Woah, Clark. Didn't you tell me that you were not into girls...In that case-"

Jerk for a reason. 

"Shut up, Matt! You've had enough. Is that girl looking for you?"

I pointed towards a bratty chick in purple who for some reason talked too loud to be heard even in a room bustling with loud music. One of Matt's many baseless pursuits. The trick somehow managed to make him run away, as the girl inched closer to where we were standing.

"Would you like to get your picture clicked?" 

I said blankly, taking in the features of the snobby girl. Her nose was freckled and she resembled a runaway high school girl who would date guys just to piss off her father. Her dress was a little too short for her stature and her makeup was bold and overdone.

"No, thanks!"

She said and disappeared into the crowd. Not an unexpected answer from her likes!

Even so, sometimes I wondered whether the camera might complain about such models. To capture mighty egos in flaring, fanny dresses or to captivate a stream of endless pity, the camera refuses none. One of the many beautiful things about photography is the lack of disparity in presenting the sanctity of the sight.

"Mind taking a picture?"

I heard someone whisper from behind. A voice that felt like sugar and melted in my ears greeted me and I found myself face to face with the goddess in black dress. It took me a while to notice that her eyes were way more alluring than they seemed from a distance. They carried a mystic flair in them. Mystery and mischief brimmed in those dark irises.

"Sure ma'am!"

The words came fumbling.

 Will a mere polaroid capture the seamless purity of her posture? Will it portray the charm of her white face as it was? Will the piece of paper do ample justice to the epitome of magnificence? I stared long at the camera and adjusting the lens, I focused the polaroid camera to the splitting image of Aphrodite. Snap!

The polaroid came out with a crank. A smile so infectious beamed from its surface and I held on to the spell till its possessor nudged me for the picture. With a hasty mind and still hands, the picture adored her graceful fingers and I stood bemused and the shutter went down once more. Another click had followed. The subject of interest stayed still and the camera snapped a few coherent clicks. What a phenomenal marvel it was! To be able to hold the time still on its surface and carry the miraculous view for ages. The camera, a wonderful invention that feared not the time, neither the embezzlement of wondrous moments...For it was an honest admirer of all things that passed through it.

Nostalgia hit hard and my fingers searched the ends of my pocket. Fumbling in the folds, the velvet of the purse felt soft and I dived in to open it up. Zipping it open, I searched for a familiar paper. The polaroid laid in there. From the polaroid, smiled a picturesque lady. In her early twenties, the curve of her smile was painted red and her thick blonde hair was tied in a bridal up-do bun. Her fingers laced with her groom who had pressed his lips on hers. The warmth of the memories seeped in through me and tears trickled down unannounced.

The captivated Goddess in the polaroid beamed to the black dress Muse and a gush of familiarity swept in.


The words came unannounced and I stared at her and the encased polaroid. 

"You remembered."

The Goddess I had always admired broke into tears. Her mascara smudged from the ends where tiny drops escaped her whimsical orbs. Hurried arms engulfed her in an embrace and I let myself endorse the tender scent of her Vanilla perfume.

"Of course! I will remember. I kissed you then and there!"

I pointed at the Polaroid and with another moment gone pressed my dry lips on hers. The tender touch of her red lips heaved both dilemma and desire. This wonderful woman and her pretty pictures...Heaven's sake! My dear wife!

"Let's go home. I have waited five long years to be recognised as your wife...If not for the polaroid!"

My lips silenced her and the picture stayed pressed between us, while I secretly paid my gratitude to the Polaroid. To let a man know what beauty he possesses, the polaroid never fails to answer by! I swayed with her lips on mine. Cursed days are gone, faded memories come back home with a glance at the polaroid. 

Praises to the art that preserves not moments but memories, caters to smiles and caresses familiarities too!

An asset... photography.

- Sayenath Sajjad Khan

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