50 shades of, well, everything

Memories have a way of troubling you. They claim your thoughts when you least expect them to. The trigger could be anything. An old photo resurfacing on whatsapp thanks to the group of cousins who love unearthing the most embarrassing pictures or a friend request on Facebook or a profile visit on LinkedIn.

Sometimes, even a single word is enough for you to go down the memory lane. I heard the word ‘obviously’ for the first time from Amishrita, in my fifth standard. I heard the word ‘lisp’ for the first time from Sunayna, while we were walking back home from the bus stop. I read the word ‘posthumously’ in my fifth, I think, for the first time in a newspaper and assumed it to mean something ‘celebratory’. Aparna ma’am used the word ‘pun’, yes, you guessed it right, we had just started reading Shakespeare. I read the word ‘ode’ for the first time in Thomas Gray’s ‘An Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat’, and ‘Elegy’ when I read his ‘An Elegy written in a Country Churchyard’.

All of those people, words, their works have had some degree of influence on my way of thinking, analysing and self-expression. This post would never end if I were to narrate every experience behind some everyday words that I use. Those experiences make words so much more interesting. Every time I read about Jesus’s second coming I think of ‘Journey of the Magi’ and that is enough to take me back to my good ol’ schooldays.

Some movies have to be mentioned here. The quality of the onslaught of memories is complemented by them. Come September, Dream for an Insomniac, The Groundhog Day, Monalisa Smile, The Basketball Diaries, My Sister’s Keeper, Matilda, A Walk to Remember remind me of a range of emotions, right from adolescent pangs to outrage to puppy love to wanderlust to stolen moments of voyeuristic happiness to see someone get their love in the end.

What am I to do with this deluge of memories? Sometimes, I am happy to be buried in work. Work keeps these memories at bay. I wonder how past seamlessly merges with the present and is carried into the future as well. What will happen to these memories after I am gone, kept asking a friend of mine. Well, they are all going to go away. We might not remember them either. Degenerative memory, amnesia or some mental trauma might erase these memories. If that happens, what am I? After all my experiences define me, right? Will I still be me when I have forgotten that my mom used to sing (‘nanhi pari sone chali’) me to sleep?

Is there a remedy for bad memories and a treasure box to keep the happy ones safe from old age, mental ailments and illnesses? What happens to them after I am dead? Maybe that’s why people are obsessed with having children? At least that way memories have a way of surviving (long?) after you are gone?

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