pictures of you

some weeks ago, i dreamt. as i’ve written before, dreaming is like a daily hobby for me, and i can even sometimes get 2 or 3 dreams in one single night’s sleep. but this dream was one of those that stayed in my mind for some time, even long after i woke up.

now i don’t remember the whole dream anymore, but i remember the feeling. it’s the feeling of missing someone so much, and a devastated one when i realized in my waking moment that this someone is no longer with us in this life. and these feelings were caused because of someone i saw in my dream at that time.

i dreamt of my sister’s late husband, Victor.

he passed away last year in May back in my home country, while i was here, in Finland, working. it was a sudden one, not of some accident or cancer or any other sickness that has a long process. he was still in his 30s.

i’ve never had a brother, and as i’ve also written before, for me there’s always only been my sister and i, no other sibling. so when he came into the picture and started dating my sister back then, i began to know & treat him as a brother i never had. of course we didn’t get to be as close as a  brother and sister would be (how close could a brother and sister be anyway? even my husband isn’t that close with his sister :p), but we laughed at the same jokes, discussed the same absurd things, and had the same appetite for weird and bizarre foods. of all the times he was there for my sister, i never doubted his love for her even once. when they got married, it felt so natural to welcome him as a family member.

about half a year before i moved to Finland, my sister and her husband moved back to live with my parents and me. two weeks before moving here, my sister gave birth to my lovely niece, and so i also witnessed it firsthand, even if only for a few days, how my brother-in-law turned into a father.

while i started my new life here, he started to take on a new hobby: photography. just like how he was in real life, his photos were simple, modest, and nothing “fancy”, but so true and heart-warming. he mainly took pictures using analog cameras and black & white films, which i suppose inspired the name of his Multiply account, Musta, Harmaa, Valkoinen. (he’s 100% Indonesian, but one time he heard about a Finnish band who sang a song about beers, and became a fan of Finland from then on :D. that was why he named his Multiply account in Finnish language.)

he also developed his own negatives, which to me set him aside from other hobby-photographers i knew (and know). he was a street-photographer, though not for fashion… far from it, in fact. he took pictures of the true life on the streets of Jakarta, my home city, and sometimes of the nature just outside of Jakarta, too. he mostly took pictures just as they were, and most of the time he would actually spend time to talk and get to know his (living) objects, such as the street vendors, the lady at the wet market, the balloon man. this was also what made his photos special: there’s always a story in it. sometimes, it even depicts someone’s whole life. someone, who would otherwise never cross your mind, who would otherwise never make you stop to think about. he made THOSE people’s lives special in a way, and in the most honest way.

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needless to say, i was a big fan of his photos. i always looked forward to seeing his new photo albums, and looking at them would make me feel like i was missing nothing from my home city. seeing the people and scenes through his lens felt almost the same as if seeing those objects with my very own eyes, even when they were in black & white.

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his daughter (=my cute niece) with her friend at their holiday home just outside Jakarta

it took 4 years until i finally had the chance to go to my home country again after moving here, and during my stay for 3.5 weeks there, i could count my meetings with my brother-in-law with one hand, due to his busy work life. on the last night though, before i went back to Finland, i still got to meet him. we talked about how we MUST go to this small island (can’t remember the name now) together one day to take pictures together, since my husband was also interested in photography. my husband and i said that we would surely do that next time we went to Indonesia.

little did we know that it was our last meeting with him, ever. he passed away two weeks before i & my husband were supposed to go to my home country again for the second time.

it’s been 1.5 years now after he’s gone, and i still miss him, and his photos. i still can’t understand why he had to go so soon, i still dream of him, and cry about it.

but seeing his old photos helps. seeing things through his eyes makes me again laugh at the same jokes as what he must’ve had in his mind when he took some funny pictures, and think about the same absurd things that must’ve crossed his mind when he took pictures of some uncommon objects. in a sense, it makes me feel as if these pictures are pieces of him. they don’t move, but they have stories. HIS stories. these are pictures of him. he was, and will always be, alive in these pictures, even if we can’t really see him in them.

to put the whole him in one post would be too long and probably take forever, so i invite you all to see his pictures instead.

and why today, of all days? because today is his birthday.

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the photographer himself

my sister had worked for weeks or even months to prepare the pictures he had taken, and now, finally, right on his birthday, they are to be seen in his old WordPress blog:  Musta, Harmaa, Valkoinen (Expose for the Shadows; Develop for the Highlights).

so happy birthday, Victor! thank you for leaving behind your “eyes” and “stories”. we miss you, and will always remember you.

PS. all pictures shown here in this post are taken by Victor Lumunon, and used by permission from my sister, aka the photographer’s wife.

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