my memory: truly a thing of the past
my earliest memory is that of my first birthday. a distinguished friend of my parents gave me a rather large (and not just by a one year old’s standards) box of sweets. i don’t remember if i actually took it, but vividly remember the shape of the box. it was round, had an indented lid and it was light coloured.
i remember the time when i was four and the neighbour’s dog bit me. i remember eating bougainvillea petals off the street in ahmedabad. i remember mum buying nail polish at a store. i remember the drive back. i remember having an argument with our man servant. and the argument verbatim in my broken hindi. it was indignation on being snitched about to mum, and about how he had no right to interfere in my 4-year-old individual pursuits. i remember teaching my younger sister (3 years old then) to somersault on the cold, hard floor and gifting her with the scar on her forehead she bears till today. i remember my 4th birthday, when my elder sister dressed me up with silver eye shadow. i remember walking out of the bedroom into a room full of guests self-consciously like a bride. i remember wondering how one arrived at a date for a birthday. i remember asking my mum the reason for living the way we did. eating and sleeping alternately and to what end we did those deeds. and where it would all end. i remember my younger sister instigating us to use mum’s makeup (snow, my mum called it). and mum’s horrified look when she pulled us from behind the curtains painted in the stuff.
i remember crank calling strange people along with my sis (by now you must know that she was my partner in crime. or the other way round.) from the heavy telephone and speaking to them in our babyish gujrati. i remember drinking a glass of brandy that my dad generously offered me and dancing for an hour afterwards, much to my parents’ amusement. i remember the money my dad gave me for my splendid drunken performance. i remember my sister standing on a sofa claiming she was taller than i (and back then, i was taller than her). and i, trying to find some taller surface to stand on to outheight her. i was also simple and gullible back then.
i remember dancing gharbha on the streets during navratri nights. i remember my older friend from the opposite house trying to teach us hooligans ‘good manners’. i remember the ice cream another neighbour’s mum made. and how she waited for us to leave so her daughters wouldn’t have to share them with us. i remember the studio picture we took with our friends. i remember the identical maxis that my mum would get stitched for the both of us. i remember the world atlas being used to play ‘where is uruguay?’ ‘where is uganda?’, you get the picture. i remember flipping through my father’s highly prized collection of books to look at pictures. i remember underlining words randomly in my dad’s expensive books because i had seen him do that for a select few words.
but i don’t remember that i kept the milk to boil an hour back. not until i smell the burning vessel and milk. i don’t remember that i have to pick up diapers ‘cause my son’s running through them at the speed of light. i don’t remember to go sign the agreement for the expensive apartment we have bought. i don’t remember to share that information with my mother. i don’t remember to give the car for service. not until i find the need to use all my 49 kgs to press the accelerator. i don’t remember to wish a close friend on her birthday. i don’t remember that my husband went to work with a headache. i forget he’s got a back problem when i ask him lift the heavy grocery bag. or my increasingly heavy son for that matter.i don’t remember the name of a play i acted in.
it's possible that my failing memory is due to the fact that i’m growing older. it’s possible that my brain has decided that the supposedly important events in my life are not worth remembering. or that i am too self-centred and 'in the present' to recall the past. my brain shuts down when it comes to remembering the horrible things that i have done. or the unpleasant facts of life. i just can’t remember nasty incidents that happened to me in the recent past. but i do tend to remember some good times and brood over the fact that they don’t happen to me anymore. i’m living a parallel life inside my head. that’s more than a little removed from the reality around me. i'm just a little bit lost in space and time. i'm losing time, and losing space even faster (and not just around the waist). to a point where all the space i have is inside my head. and time has moved on at such a speed that the last few years are but a blur and feel like they happened to someone else. and to a large extent, they did happen to someone else. so the fact that i remember only things from my childhood only means that i am going back to being who i was when i was a child and am conveniently losing memory of the time when i wasn't me.
mum is going to love this theory.