SAMANTA  BATRA  MEHTA
Silent Witness
2010
Mixed media
36 x 48 inches (diptych)
In 'Silent Witness' I explore vignettes of childhood memory and personal history. My family would visit my paternal grandparents' home every year in Panipat, a town in North India. It was a very happy and simple time in my childhood. My grandfather, an agricultural scientist and professor, had created a beautiful ornamental garden which my cousin and I would spend hours exploring, often with my grandfather. While the summer heat would engulf the Northern planes we would retire to the rooms of this cavernous home and explore it's musty smelling rooms. The home was not old, but but everything about it felt ancient because of the stories it held. My grandfather often spoke about his homes in pre-Partition India and of the spectacular gardens he had planted and left behind. Everything seemed magical, of a different time and place. As children, we rarely understood the gravity of the stories we were being told. We were more preoccupied with exploring the gardens (a novelty for us Bombay-bred children). Today, the home in Panipat no longer exists and my grandparents are no more. There are no photographs of the Panipat garden, nor the home. None of their traumatic experiences were ever captured in the written form. What exists is a fading childhood memory.