“Hello? Can anyone hear me?”
There was no reply, not even in cheerful melodies usually sung by birds. I dropped the sound kit on the forest floor and ran further along the dirt path.
Again, nothing except the eerie buzz of silence. I turned back, but every direction seemed a mirror image of it’s self. The only comfort came in the form of sunbeams piercing through the canopy. Even then, it was awfully dark for a Sunday morning.
Searching for the voice proved unsuccessful until it’s owner emerged from the trees.
“I thought you might have missed the turnout.”
Indeed, we had to walk back quite a ways before finding the hidden route among the branches and leaves.
“I found her!” Zach called when the ground started rising into all sorts of ramps and rails. In the distance, Jayaram snickered. He knew it was hard to find. The bike trails had remained unmarked for years and it was exciting to be let into the secret world they created.
Jayaram showed us around. I remember specifically the rack where bikes were hung and the deck on which he and his friends spent countless afternoons. One couldn’t help but marvel at the structures that had been so carefully built and wonder how long it had taken. Coming out to watch the guys or even reading a book in the morning seemed like a good idea. Jayaram said it was ok as long as we kept the location on the down low.
That day, there was no time for leisure reading in the woods. Instead, I glanced at an instruction manual as we set up tripods, cameras and sound. It was the second time in less than twenty-four hours. The first had been for Video Yearbook, this time Zach was filming for his ‘Group Production’ project. I recorded sound on an R-44. Jayaram, an expert at his sport, was not short of tricks to perform. We interviewed him afterwards and he told us about his childhood and passion for the outdoors. I was especially thrilled because I hadn’t realized how much he cared about nature. He seemed to be a genuine person to be friends with. Unfortunately, despite the various classes I shared with Jayaram, this was the only time that I got to hang out with him.
Two years later, while returning home from Central California, an unsettling post made it to my newsfeed. Fingers were crossed and prayers were sent wishing for a misunderstanding. Too soon, the social network was overflowing with messages confirming the fact. Jayaram was gone as a result of a tragic accident.
In the following days, I searched for the external drive containing the images taken of Jayaram during the shoot. I wanted so badly to post them on his wall, but felt uneasy since I didn’t know him like the others. Regardless, in those couple hours that we worked on the video, Jayaram’s character shown through and left an impression.
The footage we took in the woods was used during Jayaram’s memorial. It starts off in the beginning and again at 06:11. I chose to post it today since it’s graduation weekend and he would have walked with a Bachelors in Communication.
This unfortunate event has left me thinking. Mostly, I realized that when treating with people – strangers especially – it’s wise to uphold a positive attitude. Life is unpredictable; one can never tell when the last memory will be shared or what will be the most lasting impression. Let it be a good one 🙂