Memories… When thinking about this, the first vision that flashes before my mind is that of Murugesan Thaatha, my husband’s late maternal grandfather. An extraordinary person with a phenomenal memory! He had the ability to store and bring to fore, not just the name of any person he had met, but also the names of that person’s father, mother, siblings, spouse and children. He always touched my heart by remembering my late father. I can never forget those memories of him saying my father’s name every time we met and adding that he was still living within me. Such an exquisite character, the mere memory of whom makes you feel warm and loved!
Why do we have the ability to remember a certain look, a far-away smile, as if it happened just then? Why is that certain memories seem to flood you with the exact sensations you felt when those memories were first formed, even if it comes back after many years? Matchless is that scintillating feeling of savouring certain memories. I think the movie ‘Inside Out’ did perfect justice to our understanding of this. This movie, I imagine, being a metaphorical letter ending, ‘Yours Artistically, The Science of Human Mind’.
Why is this long-ago memory so vivid? The one of my nine-year-old sister coming home bleeding in the head, having taken a fall from the bus, while I was a three-year-old pedalling a tri-cycle in the verandah before my house, wearing a black dress with little yellow flowers. Amazed that in this first memory of mine, I’m there. What I was wearing, how I was looking, as if I was looking at me, from outside. As if this 35-year-old me was observing that three-year-old and imprinting this observation as a memory in that three-year-old’s head. In some ways, it’s mind-boggling. Another childhood memory flashes by, that of a disastrous first attempt at oratory. The very first oratorical competition I participated was on the topic ‘My pet’ in my second grade, an inter-class event. I remember fumbling and faltering over it, feeling terrible. From there, I remember acing every other oratorical competition in all my years of schooling in that town. So many claps, so many pats on the back but nothing as fresh as that first failure.
Does stress destroy your memories? My greatest fear at times is that of being unable to form memories. I do feel the quality of memories is not so fine as that of the past. I guess I sound like a middle-aged uncle saying, ‘You call that music! When I was young, the kind of songs I listened to! Pch! Those were the days of music!’ Kidding apart, analyzing with a clinical eye, perhaps it’s the lack of time and attention. The moments when I paused and forgot all that had to be done and when I was just fully in that moment, that’s when the finest of memories formed. Like that one day after a sad incident, when sitting on my terrace, looking at the floor below, as I wiped my tear-filled eyes and I looked up, right there in my line of sight was a rainbow. I can never forget that moment. It felt like the whisper of the universe. Or, like that moment when I woke up at Rishikesh and walking out of my bus, the mountain air embracing me, the rising sun shyly greeting me, in the witness of the crimson earth and the azure sky, I touched the cool Ganges. That is imprinted as if on stone.
The memory of a certain lanky twenty-year old, whose name I have taken, and his Adam’s apple bobbing up and down, as he looked at me, not hiding the love in his eyes, is a delightful one indeed. There’s another one connected to this one, in more ways than one! It’s a memory of holding my newborn close to me. Of course, he was closer within but not as close as then. That wriggly, blood stained, crying little thing with the ability to make you fall in love instantly. An unbelievably magical moment!
Memories of every kind lie within us all. Kind of like precious gems, buried in unexpected places, each one outdoing the next, each one right for a different occasion, if you know where to seek. Instead of piling gold and diamonds in one’s bank locker, one should learn the art of collecting these little gems. Refine the skill of reaching out within the mind and picking a forgotten one, dusting it just a little and placing it before the mind’s eye and basking in the glory of what one possesses. That something that nothing can take away! Make those memories! Even when all is lost, your memories and your ability to make them will make you richer than the richest person on earth. Happy collecting!