My parents captured my childhood in a camera, and got slides made, because the clicking was plentiful (firstborn etc.) and prints were prohibitively expensive. The slides were stored in cute little paper or plastic boxes, their ends labeled with multicolor insulation tape by my parents to signify which set of pictures each slide belonged to. Dad had a slide projector and a projection screen (which had rust marks all along its back because of the two metallic ends). Every once in a while, a slide show used to be organized where the whole family sat in the living room, the screen was brought out and put up (for a longish time the rolled screen held like a stick was about as tall as me), all lights were switched off, and the magic began. Dad inserted a slide into the projector (which let out heat and light from its top) and a huge picture of a grinning baby overwhelmed the audience, which made cutesy noises, and if the audience happened to be my mother, squished me into a ball in her overzealous cuddle.
Meanwhile, Dad held the next slide against the light coming out of the top of the projector, to check which way the next slide needed to be inserted (for all their passion for all things photographic, Mahatta Studios did not always label "Insert this side" correctly). I am sure that in the two seconds before he began work on the next slide, Dad looked up and beamed at the picture; at least half his love lay in seeing the pictures and not playing with the technology (Who said something about women falling for who are like their father? Woe! Woe! Woe!)
Phhhhhhbbbbbt! We were talking about images overwhelming the audience. It was amazing. Much better than going through a picture album together. Each picture usually has a story attached to it, and its repetition at each viewing concretizes a history of one's early life for oneself. All the hugging that happens is also phenomenal for bringing the family close together. Baby sis had her set of slides as well, and I have to confess she looks way beyond adorable: she looks edible.
The whirring of the projector and the funny smell of the slides return to me as I type this. The projector bulb went kaput many years ago, and the slides were relegated to a cupboard somewhere. Once every few years, they were held up against the light to see a miniscule version of what they were intended to represent.
And then one fine day the nice people back home got a CD made! Hooray! The big TV is a decent replacement for the projector screen, and the magic of community awwwwwing is back! Am dying to return home and see all the pictures with everyone.
The slide-turned-digital image here reminds me of a doting grandmother I only faintly remember, a house that I remember all wrong factually, a cross dressing phase that I have completely forgotten, a domestication that I have mixed feelings about, and cheeks (and a chubby forehead!) that I ought to have lost on my journey to adulthood.