March 25, 2003

Memories

My friend tells me that I have a very good memory, only that it is selective, while I tend to believe that it is not what is used to be. But I guess she is right, choosing to forget things that I am not comfortable with or things that I cannot deal with has been my pet technique to get on in life. It is very effective in the way it allows you to deal with similar things later in life with as little prejudice as possible. But it also comes with the distinct disadvantage of blanking out entire patches of my life. There are bits and pieces that I remember, but not really a lot.

For instance, I remember maybe just a handful of instances from the school years. They were never spectacular, mainly because I was not a spectacular student. I was equally non-participative in curricular or extra curricular activities with a sold laid back temperament and a pristine laziness that used to lend a generally non-eventful life some more dull sheen.

I remember the long road trips that four of us used to make on the family scooter, me standing in the front on the footboard, father, sister and mother following suit in the same order with our belongings stuffed into a black suitcase, that was secured to the carrier in the rear with long black thick rubber bands. That came to an end when we bought the car, a Maruti 800, that ended the misery that my legs used to suffer during those trips.

It was, I believe, in 1985 that we got it after a long wait. It was bright red in colour and was my parents' pride and joy because a Maruti in those days were what a Mercedes SLK would mean to us in these times. They say smell is something that memories are connected the most strongest to and I can still remember the smell of the new car quite clearly. The new upholstery and yes, the little jet that squirted water on to the windshield when you pressed the lever with the wiper controls towards the steering. It was a new feature in those times and was thus accorded the status of what computer controlled suspension would have gotten today.

But, that is pretty much it. From there on all I have is again patchy memories of high school and onwards. Five years of college were a blur. Cannot remember much more than a handful of days from that time. What is more unbelievable is that I do not remember more than a handful of people from the place where I spent half a decade of my life and I am sure a lesser number would remember me. But I pretty much remember the four years in Delhi well, somehow I cannot afford to lose them as I already do not have much of a past to look back at, though somewhere deep within us it all lies perfectly preserved for eternity.

In playing the perfect friend and many other countless roles, I have lost myself somewhere along the way. All this is just an effort to try and see where did that happen. I have piled up the few chapters I can remember all around me and I am taking them apart a letter at a time, stripping them of intentions both mala fide and bona fide. I honestly do not know what I aim to find or prove, because I see so many corners that I painted myself into, so many mistakes that I would commit, if the same circumstances were to occur again. Maybe I am a sum total of all of that or maybe I just have a chronic case of extreme self-obsession. But I can always conveniently choose not to remember that.