ANIRUDH DHANDA explores the way memories trigger heartfelt events and people from the past, and remind us of situations that evoke emotional responses. Is this what being human is all about?
It always surprises me: Brewing my first cup of tea, walking in the park, hearing a particular voice, the chirping of a particular bird, a forlorn leaf falling from the tree, smelling something distinct, seeing a person, seeing the sunrise or the longing of the dying sun, inhaling the aroma of food, reading a phrase in a book, hearing a song, or a voice in the park.
Any of these and many other similar mundane happenings during my waking hours can remind me of somebody, something, some happening, and my mind takes an instant flight in time. I am transported unconsciously, and without any active effort on my part, to another time. I smile involuntarily and move on. It’s always a different experience in the string of life. It is not fanciful, but belongs to real life.
A steaming morning teacup transports me to my friend’s place in Bolton, England, and I see him walking down the stairs still a little groggy and without his specs.
A particular aroma of food makes me instantaneously travel to my mother’s kitchen, or to my aunt’s kitchen in Delhi, India, and the taste of peas, mutton curry, or cutlets comes live on my taste buds.
The sight of the dying sun takes me to different locales. I view the entire scene at the Shimla Ridge with a single blow of cool breeze on my face.
The whiff of good coffee is enough to vividly remind me of the exhilarating mood at an international airport.
A swig of cold beer or sangria being served in a large, shapely glass flies me to Las Ramblas in Barcelona.
A hint of perfume conjures up a different picture … so vivid.
How does it happen? Where is that storehouse of memories, which come thrusting through all the years gone by, yet is so lively?
I do not want to know the physiology behind it, or the functions of the prefrontal cortex, temporal lobe, or the limbic system of the brain. All that is true, and there must still be much more to that which is yet to be unraveled by medical science. What I wish to share is the sheer marvel of the whole thing. That is, the existence of a storehouse and the immaculate retrieval system which is activated on the slightest of provocation.
I so clearly recollect the voice of my elder brother, which I heard, or thought I heard, in a busy market in Guwahati, after more than seven years of him being gone. I cried into my pillow the entire evening, something I haven’t done once in the last seven years. Is our karma too imbedded somewhere in a similar kind of cloud store?
Attempting to live in the present moment is a utopian arrival at a point where we will not be affected by past happenings and future uncertainties. Is it actually that? Or are we running away from your past and not dealing with it? Such happening presupposes voluntary death of the prefrontal cortex, temporal lobe, and the limbic system of the brain. Would we still continue to be human, I wonder?
Learning from the past and working in the present, unmindful of the future, is the beauty of being human, and not deliberate forgetfulness.
Article by ANIRUDH DHANDA
July 30, 2020
July 30, 2020
July 30, 2020