There’s something dreamlike about a fog – be it one of those bone-chilling ones that descend in the winter and stick to the skin like a wet veil, or those refreshing ones that rise soothing from the moist earth during the monsoon; those that fall after a night of illicit drink, as retribution, or those that rise after too much work, as recompense. There’s something about a fog that allows things to be found.
I once had an entire relationship in a fog – no kidding, this really happened – while drifting aimlessly in the middle of a large river. A fog does strange things to sound, even time: deadens them, precludes, makes you feel as though you’re the only one around. As in a dream, memories and fantasies intermingle, apparitions rising unbidden … ‘Freedom is a word I rarely use without thinking of being lost,’ I warbled, floating through that day. Indeed, a fog spurs one to talk aloud, expressing emotions generally better left inside one’s own head. And that’s just what I was doing: I was navigating, world-weary, a thousand years old.
It is very quiet in a fog, so when I heard him coming there was no mistaking it. This was not the sound of my own breath or the chattering of my mind, nor even the wind or ducks or waves: this was the sound of another human being. I greeted him eventually, his vague form – no chimera, that – and I welcomed him. We navigated together for a while, and I’ll never forget him.
This image is by Shishir Bhattacharjee, a Dhaka-based artist, and is part of Himal’s commentary on artwork from the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Dhaka. Oil on canvas, 1987.