Tag Archives: Memory

Not again!


You forget what you want to remember and you remember what you want to forget.”
Cormac McCarthy, The Road

“The only thing faster than the speed of thought is the speed of forgetfulness.”
Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

It happened again – ending up in one more embarrassing episode.

Before that, over to some flash back. Once I was introducing a new teacher to our staff. I had already started from one end when I caught sight of my friend, one of the senior teachers, sitting at the other end, to realize with horror that I could not recollect her name! I had two options before me – either avoid her or ask her name secretly. The consequences of both would have strained our relationship. I frequently glanced at her as I nervously performed my duty, giving myself enough time to rake through my brain. Thank God, by the time I reached her, the name struck me and I heaved a sigh of relief.
That was eight years back. Now my system is older and thereby slower.

 The latest setting is the dentist’s office. The doctor was concluding the third session discussing the fate of my teeth. There came the fatal question. ‘Which toothpaste do you use?’

BOOM! System error!

In the next moment my screen went blank, as if under the ambush of some unknown bug. What is the name of the toothpaste I use every day?!!

Desperately I enabled my search engines, though, as it always happens during emergency situations, the operation was annoyingly slow. I could visualize everything – the tube of toothpaste among my toiletries, the colours on it, the racks which displayed that brand at the supermarket, its ads on TV, the gift hamper of the same product we got recently… but strangely everywhere its name seemed blurred. What a catastrophe!

I prayed for a miracle - let the phone ring, or let someone knock at the door, or at least erase the question from her! 

The doctor might have read my thoughts before she asked, ‘Is it the name of your toothpaste that you are trying to recall?’ Sluggishly I nodded.

I could hear my heart pounding surmising her thoughts – ‘Is this patient illiterate? May be she brushes rarely. No wonder her teeth are infected.’

 ‘You do brush every morning, eh?’ What can be more humiliating to a person who prides herself in the amount of time spent daily on dental hygiene? Even though I said I do, from her mischievous smile I inferred that she hadn’t swallowed my word as such. You can rightly forget the name of any other product but that of your toothpaste, the first branded thing you take into your hands on any day.

The revelation that should have dawned on me heartlessly switched sides and unveiled itself to her. ‘Is that C*****?’ Exactly! Incredible! Oh Memory, this is not fair.

Short term memory loss has vexed me many a time during the exams. Straining  my memory only worsened the condition. And once out of the exam hall, the misted answers would easily surface, but in vain!

But dear Memory, the current event is defamatory. Well, I will always bear this in mind, if you are generous enough.

I absolutely don’t believe in anything. Full stop. Including luck.
Al Alvarez

Sorry, I was busy living…


Sorry, I was busy living
While you were vis-a-vis death
But I have been thinking of you (?).

The problem is:
You are no longer doing anything;
You don’t utter a word these days;
You are tethered to the railed bed,
And rooted to the myriad devices.
Thus you lie there in the ventilator
Day after day, living your death.

Though your body is there
Your presence is slowly fading.
What you have already done
Is of no significance
As there are no updates or posts.

If you were dead, they could declare it
And get through this uncertainty.
But you have put us in a dilemma –
You are alive, but not lively!
You are not dead, but inactive!
You are in a coma –
A comma, not a full stop,
That points to infinity!

What am I to do?
I cannot take time out
And sit beside you,
Staring at your eyes
That don’t bloom.
What are the feelings beneath?
I can’t read them.

Time to go back -
Life is beckoning!
Forgive me, I can’t take you along.
This purgatory is hell-bent
On holding you, it seems.

Moreover, you have no role left to play
In the world of the Living!

Bye…

(Even celebrities are forgotten when they are no more active. Out of sight, out of mind. Life is like that – so cruel!)

Editing Nostalgia


How do you make use of your past, I mean, your distant past whose wounds are long cauterised?

We merrily let ourselves stray to the (so-claimed) picture-perfect days of our distant past, only to dwell upon the deterioration of modern times. How many of you could solemnly assert that, in every sense your past outshines your present?

Some recent insights have gainsaid a few of my long-cherished convictions, the most striking one being those about my school life.

It’s true that my school used to obsess my thoughts as a green pasture. But ask me what I enjoyed there, and you find me groping for words. All I could dig up is hardly a handful of such jolly instances juxtaposed with a longer list of scathing or scary ones!

No resentment. No plans to pay back. Because if things went wrong for me they were merely the reflections of my attitude – years later I am mature enough to say so. Now looking at the educational system from a teacher’s standpoint, it is quite lucid why the abilities of timid students are rarely ferreted out and thereby go unsung, especially when they have no feathers of academic excellence to sport on their mortar boards. I was one of those few diffident lads later doomed to repeatedly chant “If I had been more …

Then why all the hoodwinking, while reality has always been plain as day?

This is how my conscience puts it across. “You feared getting stamped and sidelined as the black sheep when it is customary to exalt school life. The easy way out was to feign a happy teenager and keep on crooning: Oh, how I wish to be a school girl once again!”

  • Nostalgia is an emotional state in which an individual yearns for an idealized or sanitized version of an earlier time period.

That well expounds it. We idealize or sanitize our past. Communication experts term it Selective Retention. We retain only what makes us happy while we connive at the bitter ones. When the present turns grim, our conscience turns to the past for solace.

But what if both past and present are equally despicable? Patch up the past, and tag it ‘nostalgia’. If you can make yourself fanatically believe in your renovated past, you are nostalgically happy. Cool!

  • Nostalgia is excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition.

Nostalgia is the haven of the ‘excessively sentimental.’ Note that it is far from reality as it is just a yearning for something lost forever.

Even history has  repeatedly been subject to this sanitising process. So I can excuse myself, a ‘nobody’, for that fib about my school life.

What about the other places/persons in my nostalgia-list? Scrap them too?

Thank God I was not so ill-starred to go to that extent. I would rather accept my past with all its lapses, than laud them to utopian levels. We and our lives have never been perfect, so why should we strive to sanitize our past or feed ourselves on lies when that won’t, in the least, improve our present?

A wounded soul returning for revenge – that’s just fiction, I believe. The past won’t/can’t hurt forever.

Learn that nostalgia is a “sign of old age, extolling the past at the expense of the present” (Sydney Smith).

I am not old, and I have proved it. What about you?