If the whole world I once could see
On free soil stand, with the people free
Then to the moment might I say,
Linger awhile. . .so fair thou art.
― Goethe, Faust, First Part
She asks me if I recognise her, to which, I reply with my signature awkward smile, that drives away both our feelings of comfort and security. My mother comes to our rescue saying, “She was only a baby, she probably doesn’t remember” and to me, “This is so-and-so, she’s known you ever since you were a month old!” And they proceed to go on and on about how children grow up so fast and how my brother probably remembers her because he was older. This happens with a few more people who have apparently known me since I was an infant, incapable of speech or forming cohesive memories and yet they seem shocked and insulted, when my mother has to bail me out of my apparent memory loss.
“Look who’s here! Remember me? I used to play…” Their sentence fades into the background cacophony of numerous humans catching up on days unseen entities snatched from them. I see a shade of sorrow pass over her face for a split second, as she lays eyes on my reluctantly lost face, before she replaces it with a winning smile, one that has probably comforted many before me. And strikes up a conversation with my mother, who saves us both, yet again.
I don’t want to repeat my innocence. I want the pleasure of losing it again.
― F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise
In this small but endless sea of humans, it seems I’m the only one who seems despicably incapable of remembering names and faces of people who have apparently watched and kept tabs on my growth and non-existent progress in life. There’s something hauntingly comforting about being surrounded by people you called ‘family’ at one point, who then blended into the huge family we all have but have never known or are yet to get acquainted with. Neighbors, friends and cousins who have all risen to the rank of family with prolonged hours of conversation and help provided, when needed the most.
Here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why.
― Kurt Vonnegut
It’s funny how time has barely moved for me in the past few years and yet, the space I’ve covered in everybody’s eyes is so enormous that memories have failed to provide a firm base when I needed them the most. I insulted more than a few people today, women, children and an elderly person too, owing to my seemingly congenital inclination to forgetfulness, awkwardness and overthinking respectively.
Friends catch up on years they missed, the little kids eat dessert and play while the men remark on economics and politics discussing how the pandemic has affected their businesses and women share stories ranging from kidnaps to a burnt cake while the youth talk about movies and indulge themselves in photography and other, worldly talks.
I stand there, utterly and completely lost, just because I was born in the wrong year rendering me too old to recall the faces that must have, once supplied me with boundless love and kindness, and too young to fall into the women circle or appear robust and youthful with the cousins. I’m just the right age that places me in a bubble of my own, either too old or too young to join any group and I witness the sea of humans before me, each making memories of their own that will soon be a part of their respective passages in life.
We, that is, the same group of people that have gathered here today, will come together again someday; maybe not on earth, or perhaps for the funeral of that man who seemed pale and frail today. They’d lose themselves in talks, of how finite life is. We’ll all ponder on the etherealness of death and sermons of mortality will continue to haunt our thoughts, till we ourselves are given the honor of partaking in death’s magnificent journey.
“When he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.”
― William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
But then too, men and women will go around asking those younger than them, those kids they had doted on, all those years ago, what would seem like a few days to the young ones. “Oh, dear! Bless my eyes, is that dear old Pete?” to which, once little Pete would go, “Yes, that’s me” quite nonchalantly, and they’d fake a smile, “Don’t you remember me, son? I used to help tie your shoelaces when you were a wee toddler!” to which Pete would have no choice but apologise for his lapse of memory.
Another smile would be flashed and it would all be pushed apart as a regular daily occurrence, not minding how those few words might have probably broken that old man’s heart, how the few memories he’d treasured weren’t cherished mutually.
The worst memories stick with us, while the nice ones always seem to slip through our fingers.
― Rachel Vincent, My Soul to Save
They say change is a part of life, that it’s a cornerstone of nature. And it is. I’m no prophet but I can imagine myself all grown up and asking a teenager, I’d once held and loved as a baby, if she remembers me, and leaving with an injured smile at her lack of memory.
I can see the cycle repeating, a cycle where change itself has apparently forgotten to make an appearance.
I wish more than anything, I could accompany these kind souls in reminiscing the good, old days and end our poignant banter with a word of gratitude for every second, they spent, with and for, baby me but life betrays me when I need it the most, to show me the past, not to relive it, but to glorify it for the sake of one little question, into which a tremendous amount of hope, love and thoughtfulness has been invested in.
Time is the longest distance between two places.
― Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie
A few but mere seconds have passed and while I’m still standing in the place I’ve been for the past 10 minutes, I see how much I’ve grown in the eyes of the dying man, who had asked me how old I was, only to be told, he used to carry me around when I was an infant and was forced to satiate his heart with, what I hope, was a tender and grateful smile on my part.
How cruel is life, permitting the making of priceless memories but forbidding them from crossing the thresholds of man’s memory when called for?
He was still too young to know that the heart’s memory eliminates the bad and magnifies the good, and that thanks to this artifice we manage to endure the burden of the past.”
― Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera
-Introverted Thoughts aka D