I write this after saying my final goodbye to my Guru- S Paul, popularly known as Paul Sahab, Papa Paul and walking- talking photo encyclopedia.
A blank photo frame, waiting to be filled by “the perfect, once in a lifetime shot” still rests somewhere in his home.
This morning, his family, close friends and I collected his ashes. His sons, Neeraj, Dheeraj, Raghu uncle and I decided to go to one of his favourite spots, where he loved to photograph trees.
We spread his ashes underneath a tree. A tree so beautiful that I am certain, Paul sahab would have photographed it, had he visited that spot.
A tree that reminded me of one of my earliest discussions with him of a portrait of photographer Edward Weston, shot by Ansel Adams.
A tree befitting of Paul sahab, with deep roots, large trunk and widely spread branches.
The seed that gave birth to fresh Indian photojournalism, now rests under a tree.
A nature lover to the very end, he was strict in his instructions regarding his last rites. No priest, no pooja, no wood, no river. He did not want his body polluting the earth after he was gone.
He went with an unfulfilled wish of photographing Deodar trees, up in the mountains.
He went as we all remember him, a camera in hand.
He told me many times of a ‘Fakir’ who would come to his house in Lahore seeking alms. Hitting his stick on the ground, the Fakir would point to the sky and shout “Be-ant”. That which has no End. Infinity.
That became his concept of god, later on in life.
“Be-ant” used to be how he would meet me. Loudly shouting “Be-ant” when picking up the phone or opening the door to his house or when saying goodbye at the end of a long discussion.
He is now there. In infinity.
Paul Sahab’s Chautha and Uthala Ceremony will be held on Saturday, 19th of August 2017, on World Photography Day and his Birthday at Gurdwara Singh Sahib, C Block Surya Nagar, Opposite Vivek Vihar , District Ghaziabad , from 4 to 5pm.