I reach for, and dwell in, what appear to be detours.
On one of these meanderings, along with me, the mid-day sun in to every little gap in a withering house among trees. The insides, unperturbed, musty yet snug, took in the warmth with ease.
It was here that I saw her for the first time. My walking in unannounced did not seem out of place. “The animals… they find her,” she said.
The three dogs and uncountable cats wandered free in the forest, coming back in, whenever they pleased.
I felt I was one of them. Circling in loops of boredom, affection, and the sense of uncanny familiarity, I could not tell one day apart from another, in this house that, too, appeared to listen.
Sundari anchored all of us. She loved narrating the story of how Chinni, one of the dogs, led me to her one afternoon.
Over the years of spending time with Sundari and these animals, my assumptions—of what it is to be old, who is family, what solitude feels like, how to talk of things slightly, how to nap, how to perfect a scowl, what spaces and the inanimate carry of us— have all, like a strand of glimmering silk, stretched and reformed, to find resolution and renewed meaning.
What was once a chance encounter gave way to an exchange that cannot be defined within the contours of existing familial definitions. From the time spent lingering around this space, this is an attempt to fuse together these unremarkable fragments into a palpable whole.
Priyadarshini Ravichandran is a photographer pursuing work that feels unhurried and urgent at the same time. It is ambiguous if the work is propelling her life or the other way. She lives in Tamil Nadu.
All images from the series Sundari. Tamil Nadu. 2014-2019. Digital.