Running in the Family
One of the reasons this image (of a harbour and dusk) corresponds to the tone and descriptions of Ondaatje’s text is because of its absence of people. Ondaatje associates the harbour and dusk with a past memory of saying goodbye to “a sister or mother” (133), while this image can create feelings of loneliness and sadness. The dim blues and pinks created by the retreating sun can evoke a similar sort of heartbreak the narrator feels about partings – he even associates the harbour with the song “Sea of Heartbreak.” The vast open space in the photo allows the mind to wander, just as how the chapter “Monsoon Notebook” is composed of random thoughts. This nighttime image also corresponds with the melancholy mood of the text and its descriptions of solitude: how we fail to notice the “sweet loud younger brothers of the night”(136) and how solitude can also be noisy, made up of sounds from birds, crows, and cranes (27).
Grace Coddington’s Memoir