Representation

Representation is always difficult, and nowhere more so than on maps.

In constructing a map for a project, I spent – what I initially thought was – an inordinate amount of time on it. But I realised otherwise upon producing the final copy.

What I learnt about what took me so long was the exact thing holding me back from completing the task: Wanting to be perfect. I wanted to be as exact as possible so as to do justice to the geography.

At some point, it dawned on me that for the purpose of what I wanted to achieve, accuracy was still important – but faithfulness was not.

All I needed was an approximate model for people to get from Point A to Point B. Here, I had to strike a balance between what I wanted ideally and what people really needed.

If map-making is a metaphor for sharing one’s wisdom about finding one’s way in the world, then this route stands out: art, like life, entails having to be comfortable with making choices and accepting sacrifices.

Nevertheless, these trade-offs cannot be made unthinkingly; for example, there will be situations in which accuracy and faithfulness are equally important, and approximations will not suffice.

Also, while there is much value in putting in the hours to learn the intricacies and nuances of any craft, sometimes, it’s always better – and quicker – if you have a guide to show you the way.

I hope this map guides your path in the same way it will guide mine.

Dreams

Nani has begun dreaming again.Since she began recounting her life, she’s been having dreams of her youth.She dreams…

Posted by Laremy Lee on Saturday, 11 July 2015

 
Nani has begun dreaming again.

Since she began recounting her life, she’s been having dreams of her youth.

She dreams about 1930s Sindh, in what was still India, and not yet Pakistan.

In them, she recalls the freedom of childhood and being a child: how she and her friends ran races, played games like dog and bone, how they roamed the streets of Hyderabad – courageously, in all their urchin-like temerity.

She remembers fearlessness: her father never scolded her so she was very brave; her mother would back down whenever Nani stood up to her – which was often.

There were neither borders nor obligations; no boundaries to be afraid of crossing.

Most of all, she remembers the freedom.

Were you happy, Nani, we ask.

“Khush,” she says, spreading her gnarled fingers in an expanse of expression. Happy.

“Ma free has; ma sochandas ma free aayah.”

“I was free,” she said. “I would think then, ‘I am free.'”