By Izzat Tham
It’s true when we ponder on the adage of “a picture is worth a thousand words”. What if there is a possibility to capture a still moment or a movement of one’s life and depict thousands upon millions of thoughts that regulate all over our intricate and complex mind that registers the visual image we see equivalent to reading an academic journal of sorts.
The notion of capturing the essence of human emotions is a mysterious thing just as how many of us could be emphatic and sense the others: just by a glance or intuition – should it be applicable in pictures, it’s a totality of magic to able to feel the sensation of it all.
What should happen if a photographer’s journey from self-interest were to turned into a journey that carved the point of realization, of self-fulfillment and self-discovery? Which evolved into something of more than a “hobby” but a passion of heart to convey messages through capturing still moments so precious that once taken, completely turns into a “debris” of the unattainable past.
It’s no longer boy meets world for the young and resilient hearted young man of aged 22 years old called Roshan Menon A/L Mohan whom is currently pursuing Economics & Finance in INTI INTERNATIONAL COLLEGE, SUBANG JAYA under University of Wollongong Commerce.
Portrait shot of Roshan Menon by Razlan Yusof
“Although I’m pursuing something of a contradiction to what I’m passionate of – which is photography but I believe in multiple dreams. Economics and Photography are both my dreams,” adding that he had always loved Mathematics and considered himself as a “Math’s Guy” and that he will always have a special compartment in his heart for photography.
Although the young photographer’s journey had always been about shooting street photography and mesmerised by the essence of rawness in human emotions when taken secretly, anonymously, or with their consent.
“There’s just a sense of “real life” when you take a picture of someone when they’re unaware of – similar to when we show our real self when we are alone in our room where we believe no one is looking. To capture that moment of “exposed” vulnerability is just so precious, to me,” he said during our interview with light glistening in his eyes, passionately describing his experience.
One of Roshan’s Film shots taken during his February trip to Kampung Segambut Dalam,Hartamas
However, it wasn’t until a particular journey in the month of February, 2014 to Kampung Segambut Dalam, a village in Hartamas. Whereby he had encountered an experience that would alter his whole persona and learnt a whole lot about life, gratitude, and ultimately, compassion.
According to Roshan, it was a February trip with an agenda to find compelling photography pieces for exhibition under an organisation called “The Print Room” which is based in Petaling Jaya, Kuala Lumpur with a theme revolves around villages and the life in it. Invited by Razlan Yusof whom he met during his internship period with Pestle & Mortar Clothing the journey was filled with mix emotions and contemplation, he stated.
“I was invited by a friend of mine called, Razlan Yusof – I met him during my internship period with Pestle & Mortar Clothing,” adding that Yusof was such an important figure in his life because the deeds and guidance Yusof had given him in terms of photography was absolutely gratifying and he could never ever return the priceless and well treasured deeds to his wonderful companion of a friend.
“The journey at first was about trying to get a worthy shot to be exhibited into the exhibition as it would be a great pleasure to be exhibited but – what I found in/on that journey was more than gold that the earth itself could ever produce. I’ve met a family and apparently they are to be relocated due to new development for skyrise building,” he said with expressed grief in his face.
According to Roshan, the village will be completely demolished and many of its inhabitants will be forced to be relocated and this is where he learnt how sensitive human social contact is and the family of a young boy that forevermore changed his persona on life, gratitude, and ultimately, compassion.
“I met a boy. He was still a child, a very young soul and a playful one, too. I met his family too. He has 4 siblings, including himself. He lives with his mother, his 3 other siblings, and his aunt – he has a brother whom is married and they live just across one another,” adding strings of laughter as he mentioned the last part.
The boy that changed Roshan’s perspective on life, gratitude, and compassion.
“I realised how undisturbed and unaffected his childhood was – he still has the innocence and playfulness of a child in his waking moment as I met him – he still has the attachment of physical enjoyment rather than technologically entrapped. He approached us rather than the usual process of us approaching people,” he said.
On top of the child’s instant attractiveness – both Razlan and he, met the boy’s family. To society, the boy and his family is just another family that is struggling to live but, to Roshan and his friend, the boy’s family was living the life of what it’s ought to be. The life filled with happiness and surrounded by contentment of one another.
Although, they are to be relocated at the end of this year – their faces are still gleaming with smiles – although behind those cracked wrinkles of both supple and dried skins that marks the differences between the youth of the mature and aging – they are still living life as simple as it’s without worrying what the future holds.
“They earn RM 20 per day by selling their daily errands and routines of self-made business but what amazes me the most is the fact that as blessed as I am standing in between the line of social-class separations; and yet their responds broke me internally. The mother told us – as long as we have enough to eat and we have the companies of our own, it will suffice“, and stating that they’re just frustrated that they have to leave their dwellings of 50 years and the reality of 2 minutes walking to their business location turned into a 20 minutes or more of public transportation period.
Portion of Kampung Segambut Dalam captured by Roshan.
A separation between modernity and traditionalism.
Roshan also confessed that they really did live the life of luxury – they cared for everyone in the family, their daily routine is always spent with one another, their social interaction is always constant and not through technology necessities and everyone in the village knows each and everybody. It gave Roshan the expression of everyone actually cared for one another and not occupied with their own self-interest which he finds common in this digital and modern age of life.
“I’m forever grateful for the wonderful experience I had throughout this journey side by side with my best of friend; Razlan Yusof and I’ll most definitely and always be continuing to be doing this, regardless of what becomes of me and above all…it has taught me so much to grow as a person and for that – I’m absolutely grateful,” he said with a smile.
Portraits of People by Roshan colliding with the daily live of Kampung Segambut Dalam.
Roshan learnt more about life than what it’s depicted to be when he sees the boy’s family living principles, he learnt of gratitude through simple and small contentment of a stranger’s family’s happiness shared with him, and ultimately, he learnt compassion simply because a child’s innocence and a family’s struggles to live as their environment is crumbling before them and they still bore the heart of strongest material should be exist in the earth’s crust and welcomed both Razlan and him into their humble company.
As tragic as it may seems but in between those heart-rendering and sadness formulating composition, people like Roshan finds beauty in them – the beauty of human emotions. Ensnaring timed and precision to capture what we all lack in today’s world – the ability to comprehend others, to be emphatic, and to have at least an ounce of surging feelings for others besides us when we are faced with the ever-moving world of competition and emotional numbness conundrums trying to climb up the “ladder of success”.
Just as how Hellen Keller puts it; “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart” and in the most of agreeable manner, Roshan has brought it to life when I sat with him and go through these pictures of random strangers I only know through conversation with a man, I too, barely know.
But an hour spent talking to another soul opens up thousands of possibilities and thus through Roshan I too, appreciate communication as much as he does, now and I urge everyone to put down that contraption in/on your hand and look at one another deep in their eyes and just…talk.
For more photography work of Roshan Menon and his friend Razlan Yusof individuals are encourage to visit their Facebook page for more information, below.