Every new school year called for a new set of passport-size photographs, and for that I always went to this photo studio near Kodambakkam bridge, no more than 200m from where I lived. My mum took me there the first few years and thereafter I walked there alone, but each time I went I burst into laughter just before the man released the shutter.
I couldn’t help it. The man would tell me once more to sit straight, stop tilting my head, and stop smiling, and try again. Most years, the photograph in the top-right corner of the first page of my school diary showed me just about managing to suppress a grin.
Today, after a long time, I took a walk around my old neighbourhood. When I walked past the studio, the man’s face came back to me. I peered in, and he was there, as always, looking more or less like he used to, except his hair and moustache were now white. He didn’t see me, and I doubt if he’d have recognised me.
It would have made for a nice photograph, I suppose, me photographing him. But the idea didn’t occur to me, and I carried on walking.