Childhood Reimagined

Author: Ekaterine Kolesnikova


As a child, I always desperately waited for summer vacation.

Every summer breath fed a desire to lie down on the green grass and enjoy a fresh piece of red watermelon. As I grow older, I realize that those summer trips held more spiritual significance than simply fulfilling the freedom of my carefree childhood.

Every childhood experience is different, and each of us embraces it with a different mindset and experience. For me, most childhood memories are fragile and, in some ways, impenetrable.

Regardless of how sweet, over time those memories start to fade, leaving nothing more than foggy contours.

Childhood Reimagined is a photo project about my village, Zemo Nakalakari, in Georgia’s eastern Tianeti Municipality, and my young neighbor, Saba, whose joyful spirit and enthusiasm was so contagious it instantly threw me back to my early childhood memories. His childish innocence and positive energy reminded me of the good old times, when being a child was certainly a privilege. Life seemed easy and nothing was impossible. 

Through the allusion to my own childhood experience, with this project, I aim to restore past memories and connect with familiar places and people.

This summer journey can be identified as an intimate and very personal way to perceive things. It is also a reflection of a reality that is sometimes hard to define. 

Both Saba and I found ourselves in Zemo Naqalaqari in the spring due to the pandemic. I felt lucky to be in the middle of nature during this troubling time, an island of calm where a vast silence reigned most of the time.

Rather than spending time with my family members, however, I chose to spend the lazy afternoons with Saba. I was curious about things I could possibly learn and observe from this inquisitive little boy. 

I met Saba, 5, a few years ago, and I have known his entire family for more than 15 years. Every summer I remember playing in his house when I was of his age. The family inherited the property long ago, and it was always full of residents in the summer.

This little boy was honest, kind, creative but also quite independent for his own age. Unlike many children his age, he is not talkative. Instead, he channels his energy into a constant search for adventure. I rarely recall the moments when we just sat and enjoyed the silence. 

As Saba and I explored my old, familiar haunts and the people who played important roles in my own childhood, I started to remember things instead of just imagining what had been.My own memories are my recollection of early experiences and beliefs that used to be meaningful, but also something that I wanted to remember. Suddenly an interesting question pops up: Could those childhood memories be transmitted across space and time?

I met my little neighbor Saba a few years ago, but he was too little to remember me. Now, a few years later, we met again and immediately got along well with each other. I have known his entire family for more than 15 years and I remember playing in his house every summer when I was his age.

Together with little Saba we quickly found new places to entertain ourselves, spending most of the time outdoors. It looked like in that newly constructed reality we hunted for our daydreams and aspirations that we thought we could find in the midst of the that chaos, constantly accompanied by cement dust in air.

All-day long we circulated and observed other family members keeping themselves busy with the daily routine, from early morning until the late evening.

We found the recently created open-door kitchen, the bathroom in the neighboring room, and Saba’s favorite inflatable swimming pool in the garden area.

It is believed that our memories play a significant role in defining the aspects of the reality we live in.

Our mind creates memories according to our emotional and physical experiences. It is a consistent reaction where past memories are put together in real-time.

They say our brain works as a storyteller, remembering and recovering only those moments and situations that we prioritize at a given time. This summer journey can be identified as my attempt to escape from reality, a reality that sometimes is hard to define.

While I am trying to understand the complex relationship between memory and reality, the summer slowly fades away.

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