Indian Independence day August 1947
When my grandpa died in December 2002 I was in Kerala in the coastal town of Varkala. I swear I intuitively knew that some thing was wrong at home, I just had a bad feeling and I did not ring home for this reason, cowardly putting off the bad news. When I eventually did ring home it was my father who told me the sad news that he had died.
It was over a year later when my parents and my sister brought grandpas ashes out to India, we decided to spread his ashes in several places, we put some in Hosur Road cemetery on the family graves, some on his old school playing fields at Bishop Cottons in Bangalore and the rest we spread just off the coast with dolphins at Palolem beach in South Goa.
On my return from one of my trips to India in 2008 I asked my grandmothers permission to look through her cupboards at some of his old photographic albums and it was whilst I was searching under the stairs that I came across the pocket sized blue book of negatives along with four strips of 35mm film. Both of these finds were unexpected as we had always believed that he had thrown a lot of his negatives away.
The strip of negatives are incredible, they were taken the moment that Lord and Lady Mountbatten walked down the steps of the Vicregal lodge in New Delhi and ceremonially departed India, the film was shot on August the 14th 1947 and it was at midnight on the 15th that India gained its independence and it became the worlds largest democracy, this also signalled the end of the British Empire.
My grandpa was not working that day as an official photographer; he was working as a security guard high on the roof of what is now parliament which was a perfect place to get this grand over all view. It seems such an iconic image to have never seen the light of day, until now.
Jason Scott Tilley