M. Comorassamy

With an absent look in his eyes, a gaunt face and a body twisted from the way he leans on his walker, Mr. Comorassamy seemed destroyed by some internal torment. I had seen him walking the halls like a shadow and dared not take his picture. Was he aware of what he looked like?

I tried to speak to him, but his voice was weak and his pronunciation was muffled. A conversation wasn't possible because I couldn't understand anything he said.

Luckily his friend Mr. Furney came along and helped us get to know each other. I started taking a few shots of him when he covered his face with his hand. I put my camera down thinking he didn't want to be photographed. But a staff member who'd been watching us encouraged me to carry on. "He's playing with you!", she said. So I began again and realized that he wasn't trying to hide from me, he was playing peek-a-boo! His mournful countenance, usually so haggard, transformed into a lively mischievous expression. He was radiant behind his long awkward fingers and the metamorphosis was striking.

After I took a few more pictures, I showed him his image on the camera's digital screen and he was clearly moved. He uttered a few almost inaudible words and then stared at me and smiled. His smile lasted only a few seconds but to me it felt much longer. The next day I passed him in the hall and he recognized me. His caregiver lent him her phone and he immediately began playing with me again. In our silent conversation the day before, something significant had definitely taken place between us.

But what did we exchange? I can't articulate exactly what transpired between us, but I will never forget the way he smiled at me that first day. It is one of my most precious memories of the time I spent in this retirement home.