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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
Juho had never been asked to come up with a title for another person’s work.
‘What kind of photo does it take to put someone in such misery?’ Juho wondered.
“Do you think you can take a look at my photo?”
With that, the girl held her camera up and busily tapped its buttons in order to search through the pictures stored in it. After a while, she handed the camera to Juho. A frog became visible in the tiny camera screen.
“Yep. I took it in spring.”
Because they were in a botanical garden, looking at the picture of a frog didn’t feel out of place. A small, green frog was sitting on a leaf in a rather peculiar pose.
“It looks funny.”
The frog was hanging perilously from a stem while its hind legs hung loosely beneath the leaf.
“It even has that staring-out-into-the-distant-mountains look!”
“Doesn’t it remind you of a middle-aged man?”
“It looks like someone who’s just given up on life too.”
In other words, the frog looked rather human-like. With its sad eyes, it seemed like it was looking into the future or reminiscing about its, perhaps regretful, past. While it looked like a child riding on a swing, it also looked like a middle-aged man in desperate need for a smoke.
Its posture was quite different from how Juho remembered a frog. If he were to see a frog like that, he, too, would have stopped in his tracks.
“Are you looking for something funny for your title?”
‘Like the frog’s whimsical pose, perhaps?’
She denied it without hesitation.
“Then, something sad, maybe?”
“No! Look at the frog. It’d make no sense!”
Juho nodded quietly at her objection. A sad title wouldn’t suit the photo.
“I saw quite a few pictures on your camera when you were flipping through them earlier. What made you decide on that picture in particular?”
“It’s kind of a long story.”
“I have plenty of time.”
“No, I mean there’s no time. The festival is the day after tomorrow.”
Unlike Juho, who spoke calmly, she didn’t bother to hide her anxiety.
“I know I’m not in the position to be rushing you, but are you struggling because you need something sweet? Should I go get you something?”
“I need information more than sugar,” Juho said.
“Regarding this photo. I’m an author, someone who give his story a name.”
“Story? But this is a photo.”
“Stories can be found anywhere, just like how you’re the protagonist of your life,” Juho said.
“Does that mean I have all the clues I need to come up with a title? Like a protagonist in a novel?” she asked while wearing a serious expression.
“I guess you can say that,” Juho affirmed, blinking twice.
“OK, fine. I’ll tell you. What would you like to know?” she asked, still looking serious.
“Anything, really. As long as it’s relevant to the photo.”
Her eyes moved busily and then stopped at the frog.
“I first met this frog this past spring. We met at a park, right around the time when insects were starting to crawl out of their holes.”
A background of time and space. Juho listened to her story intently.
“I was in the middle of club activities. Our club comes out to this park to take pictures, and that’s when I met this funny-looking frog. It was destiny.”
Juho nodded quietly.
“But I was just watching it since I didn’t really feel like taking a picture of it.”
‘I wonder what moved her?’ Juho wondered.
“That’s when this grandma appeared.”
A new character.
“It was hard to make out her expression because of all the wrinkles on her face. She looked kinda scary with her back bending forward.”
“So, I moved aside, and the grandma just stood in front of the frog… ”
The garden was quite warm throughout the year, regardless of the season. Her camera was exactly the same way. It contained her memory of the day when she met the frog.
“… and smiled brightly, enough to straighten her wrinkly face,” she said as she looked into the distance, where the banana tree was standing.
“Eventually, she started cracking up, holding her sides. That’s when the frog looked really special all of a sudden, so I ended up taking a picture of it.”
She took a picture. What was once merely funny had become the recipient of affection. It had moved her.
“I wanted to give her my picture, but I never saw her again. I guess it makes sense considering how big the park is. When I first heard the news about the exhibition, I remembered her immediately. Anybody can come to the school festival, so I thought the grandma might be there, looking at my photo with that same bright smile. But, I’m pretty sure she won’t though, haha.”
Despite the fact that the elderly rarely visited the school festival, Juho added in order to encourage her, “Who knows? She might come if she has a grandson or a granddaughter.”
“You think so?”
“I’m sure she will.”
With that, Juho returned to thinking about the title. ‘What would be an appropriate name for that frog? Is it right for me to give someone else’s work a name?’
“Do you have anything? I’m sure you’ve been thinking about this.”
“I do have a few.”
“What are they?”
She was hesitant to share them. Maybe she didn’t really want to say them out loud.
“They’re all kind of lame.”
“It might be of help.”
With a sigh, she calmly listed the names she had come up with thus far.
“Mr. Frog, Frog Neighbor, Hilarious Frog, Odd Frog, Frog Looking into the Distant Mountains. Frog Playground, Frog Choir, Frog World, Frog’s Point of View, Frog’s are Cool, Frog’s Resting Area, Take a Five with a Frog, Just Frog, Ribbit Ribbit Frog.”
There were simply too many frogs.
She snapped, annoyed at Juho’s silence, “I told you they were lame!”
“I’m at loss for words because of your brilliance, that’s all.”
Juho was sincere. They were not lame by any means. By putting feelings into words, she was simply trying to figure out a focus of her own.
“How about you? Were you able to think of anything?” she asked with her eyes sparkling with anticipation. Although Juho had a few ideas, he decided the photo had to be named by the photographer herself. After all, she had been the one to capture a story in the moment.
“OK, so, I just thought of this…”
“OK, I’m listening.”
“I think you got this.”
Juho calmly explained to the girl as she furrowed her forehead in annoyance.
“The titles that you’ve just listed show that you have talent. It’s just that you’re focusing on the frog too much.”
“Is that supposed to be a compliment?”
“A sincere one, at that.”
The displeasure became apparent in her expression.
“Wouldn’t it be more rewarding if you named your own photo?” he asked.
“I would if I could, but…”
She didn’t seem confident. After a brief time pondering, she opened her mouth and said, “I really liked the title of your book, ‘Grains of Sand.’ It felt like it wrapped everything up nicely.”
“Yeah. The sand isn’t even the protagonist, but it still sounds like a title.”
She looked at Juho intently.
“I want to name my photo something similar. It wasn’t just the title. Your story makes readers think. I thought about the lady all day. The story had already ended, but I found myself thinking about her repeatedly. It was almost like Yun Woo’s books. I know that it’s a different genre, but I want to take photos like that.”
Their eyes locked.
“That’s why I struck up a conversation with you.”
Juho thought that her dark, yet clear eyes looked like a pair of lenses.
“So, I’ll do my best as long as you’re willing to help.”
“That’s more like it,” Juho answered with a smile. “But you don’t have to try so hard.”
“You’ve already figured it out.”
“I did?? When??”
“I told you. Grandma, smile, the reason you took and chose that picture. All of these things are outside of a camera’s angle.”
She blinked curiously.
“Try stepping out of your angle.”
“Out of my angle?”
“That’s right. Out of your photo. You’re distracted by the funny looking frog. That’s not the only thing you meant to capture, right? So, that’s why you’re struggling to come up with a title days before the school festival.”
“But, this is about the frog…”
Juho brought the camera up to his eyes, and a small rectangular screen came into view. It was a tad too small to fit a tall banana tree. As he pulled away from the camera, he felt light rushing into his eyes.
“So, since I don’t know much about photography, I have to ask. Is there a rule that says that a picture of a frog has to have “frog” in its title?”
“Then, you can do whatever the heck you want, right?”
She remained quiet for a while. In the meantime, Juho took the camera and took a picture of her sitting in a daze. Unfortunately, he was simply not skilled enough to capture the distraught look on her face.
The shutter sound echoed throughout the garden. The girl was immersed in thought, with her hands together.
“I got it,” she said.
“What is it?”
“The Grandma Smiled,” she said with a bright smile. She was filled with confidence that time.
Although there was nothing artistic about it, it was simple and honest. It was also a rather decent title for a photo.
“I like that!”
The carps swam about as the water trickled out of the waterfall into the pond. Tall tropical plants surrounded the place, and the air was warm. The girl might have been looking for the old lady even to that day, but in the end, the person she had found was herself.
“Honestly, I kind of regretted not taking a picture of the grandma,” she said, looking much more relieved.
“I should have included her in the shot with the frog at least.”
“How come you only took a picture of the frog?” Juho asked.
“I ask myself the same question,” she answered. “But, I think I’m starting to understand why.”
She seemed confident, as if she had finally gotten her hands on an answer of her own.
“It was for the grandma.”
Because she had thought that she wanted to take a picture of the old lady, she took a picture of the frog instead. If the old lady were to see the photo, she’d be able to smile throughout the four seasons.
“If I took a picture of that grandma, that picture would’ve stayed in my camera, sound asleep. I’d be the only person looking at it.”
As she took the camera from Juho’s hands, Juho willingly handed it back to her.
“I’m sure I would have regretted it.”
“You regretted it when you took a picture of the frog.”
“More so than now. I’d have regretted it even more.”
With that, she stood up from the bench.
“Thanks. I’ll make sure to include your name next to the title.”
“That won’t be necessary.”
“You don’t have to be polite. It’s a gesture of gratitude.”
“I’m not being polite. I’m turning down your offer.”
Juho’s muttering didn’t reach her ears.
“OK, then, I’m going to go and print out the title. I’m so glad things worked out! I’ll be telling all of my friends about your book. Every single one of them!”
“That, I’ll gladly accept.”
“OK, see ya!”
Juho watched her from behind as she ran vigorously. Would her photo be reunited with the old lady?
Juho contemplated on whether or not to include that word in a story of his in the near future.
“School festival!” Seo Kwang exclaimed. He seemed rather excited when Juho ran into him on his way to school. Like he said, the day of the festival had finally come.
“Somebody’s in a good mood today. You’re not planning on doing anything though.”
“C’mon, now. It’s a festival! Besides, the fact that we don’t have class today is enough to put a smile on my face.”
It didn’t take much to make those who had been relieved from duty smile. Though it was cold out, there was excitement in the air.
“Oh! It’s Sun Hwa.”
“Seo Kwang,” she said as she turned around. She was wearing a hefty backpack. She had said that her class was having a bazaar, and her bag seemed filled with things to be sold that day.
“Seems like you’ve put in quite a bit of work.”
“We were kind of ambitious, so we had to sacrifice our weekends to prepare for the festival.”
“Aren’t you tired?”
“It’s still fun,” Sun Hwa said briskly.
“She’s at school. She must have had more preparation left.”
“Man, you guys are NOT messing around. Our class is barely doing anything.”
“But, you’ll get a lot of visitors. Everyone has their own way of having fun. Make sure to stop by our class. Help us out a little.”
“So, we’re just revenue?”
“I can’t say that you’re not.”
The three went their separate ways as they reached the first floor.
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