Tag Archives: Memory

Nick

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Friday Night Dinner with Friends

Imagine spending two hours with a stranger, thinking that he reminds you of someone. Vaguely.
Imagine talking, laughing, listening, joking, all the while wondering why it feels so familiar.
Imagine feeling like you know so little about someone you call a friend and there’s nothing more you need to know about someone you’ve just met.
Imagine being spontaneous and sparkling and thinking that you’ve done this too many times with too many people.
Imagine having dinner with Nostalgia and realizing over dessert, whose face its wearing.

It’s him. The last memory of him has him in a green shirt, just like this one. The spectacles are exactly the same, as is the square-cut face. Not an exact match since he was last seen, years ago. So this is him, is it? Older, nicer, easier to be with?

But wait, this isn’t him. It’s someone else. A perfect stranger. But my god, the resemblance! You can’t unsee it now that you’ve seen it. Present, dinner with friends merges into a frame from the past, nostalgia colouring in the details in this sketchy outline that is sitting in front of you. Him. HIM. HIM.

Odd it took so long to figure that out though. Really, really odd that someone who feels like he’s embedded deep inside, one with your cells, is so hard to recognise in the face of another. He eats a bit differently, though. He never used to like caramel custard and you don’t think he knew how to use chopsticks. The chopsticks click, the spoon clatters. And again the frame shifts. It’s not him. Someone else. Stranger. No, not a stranger. A friend of a friend. You turn to look at the person you arrived with, clinging to the present, to a notion of who you are now.

Maybe memories crumble like over-thumbed bits of paper and after awhile, all you have left is the vague recollection of something that used to occupy that place. A stray browned scrap of paper that floated off, after the original disintegrated. The memory of a memory.

You find yourself miles away from that once-so-familiar picture. That must have been someone else, a different you. That happened to someone else, someone who became the you that you are now. But that was another person it happened to. You find your hold slipping. You realise the memory doesn’t stick to your soul and prick you anymore. He? Who’s he? Who was he? Somebody that happened to someone you don’t even know anymore. You’re not a part of that story. That story doesn’t even exist in your world now, without you. It doesn’t exist because it is without you.

And here you are now,
in a world new enough to be interesting,
familiar enough to be comfortable.

And you’re having dinner with a stranger, not with your past.

* This is an older idea repolished and brought up again since it is still relevant.

Cheese Fondue

This is a slightly improved version of an old post. But the sentiment remains.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

What do you do when you see the person who broke your heart, sitting at the table next to yours in a restaurant? Cool as ever over cheese fondue.

You:

  1. Hide.
  2. Scoot.
  3. Walk over ultra-cool and strike up a conversation.
  4. Pretend that they don’t exist (and hope they do the same).

Frantic thinking. You can’t do a. since they’ve spotted you already and are trying to figure out if you really are who they think. Hence b. is ruled out as well…besides you’d have to pass them when you walked out, thus giving them a perfect opportunity to confirm what they’re thinking.

You wonder if you could pull off c. but your feet refuse to move and you desist out of fear of doing something incredibly unpardonable like stammering, blushing furiously – or worst of all – starting to cry, right into that silly cheese fondue.

And you suddenly know that you can never meet their eyes because just locking gazes with them will make the tears start. All the years of discipline, behind defense mechanisms will crumble the minute they look at you. Why is it that you’re the one being embarrassed over what happened and unable to meet the gaze of the person who performed the heinous crime of breaking your heart?

In an instant the years fall away. The person you’ve built yourself to be, vaporizes before your eyes. And you’re back to where you were years ago, feeling small, unloveable, weak and helpless.

Some scars continue to itch, long after the wounds heal. Distance may prove to be some balm but when that’s gone, you’re back to bleeding. Back to bewildered, hurt, confused, scared. Back to wondering whether the years in between were just a figment of your own imagination and learning to live and laugh and love again was just a dream. Back to the horrific moment, breath stuck in your throat, forgetting how to be happy, forgetting about anything mattering at all, forgetting how to live a half-life like you’re still you but with some vital organs missing.

Then somehow, slowly, you remember how to breathe. Exhale. Out with all the bad stuff in your head. Inhale. A new world. A new life. A new you. Life, one breath at a time. Love, one memory at a time. Cheese fondue in time too. And when you get up to leave, you notice the table next to you is empty.

#Ideastory: Photographer

Five of us in this photograph, she says,
I wonder where the rest are.
Six, he thinks,
I was behind the camera.

But she’s already looked away.
#ideastory

View on Path

The First Rain

Description unavailable

Description unavailable (Photo credit: martinak15)

 

The memory of him
clings to the tips of her hair,
like the first rain that they got caught in, inadvertently.

 

The What-If Store

I find myself thinking of you
Suddenly,
Unaccountably,
Well, not so much
I only think of you when I’m dissatisfied with how my life has gone

It’s fun to fantasize
Remember,
Not it all,
Selective recollection’s a wonder
In my memories, you and I are pristine, even golden

Your charm, your wit, your smile, your essence,
You, us,
Your rightness,
Even your wrong,
Is right because you’re in the past

Every woman needs a what-if man
She says,
Looking back,
It’s comparison shopping
But also just window-shopping, I sigh

I shrug, shake my head and smile
That moment,
Away,
Knowing though,
The what-if store is always open

Tiny Tales: The Day You Should Have Stayed In Bed

The day stretches on like a chewing gum that’s lost its flavour a long time ago. Yet, you won’t spit it out. Maybe you’ll swallow it and feel a twinge of guilt as you remember your biology teacher telling you that it’ll stick to the inside of your stomach and ruin your digestion. Memories of school always depress you. How can anyone call them ‘the best years of their lives’? Such horrible lives those people must have now. They must be lying. All you remember of school is sarcastic teachers, leering bullies and the breath-choking fear that a single red mark can produce.

It’s a hot day, the kind you’ve missed the past two months, feeling awkwardly guilty about it since the whole world is waxing eloquent about how nice it is to have winter in this city for a change. But all it makes you want to do is close your eyes and go back to sleep. If only the blanket didn’t feel so prickly. The delicious comfort of the woolen blanket is gone with January. Now you feel slightly disloyal to summer.

With massive effort, the kind that no one else could possibly understand or appreciate, you heave out of bed and brush your teeth. You remember to water the plants, trying hard to smile at the fact that the basil leaves planted a week ago are finally taking root. But as you move away from the window, your smile drops like actors must drop their costumes the minute they’re off-camera. In the brooding non-thinking that follows, you manage to tidy up the room, make the bed and run a load of wash. Enthused by the thought that maybe that was just waking up grumpiness that ailed you and that activity will make you feel better, you run a second round of wash on the cotton sheets. Time to clean them and get them ready for summer. Yeah Yeah! Yeah! The washing machine rings and gets running and shows that it’ll take 67 minutes for the ‘Blanket’ cycle of the wash. *Sigh*

Twelve minutes are successfully wasted checking email, messages and comments. When the phone rings, it’s forty minutes over already. And you’re trolling weird articles on random sites, feeling shittier at the thought of the scumbags who share the online world – and the offline – with you. The phone is jumping up at you, admonishing you for your useless, wasted little life. You stare at it, defiance being all that you have the energy for. And you hit ‘Silence’ vindictively. But the flashing light even on the muted phone gives you no sense of real satisfaction.

Satisfaction, that’s an elusive concept. Do you even remember what that felt like? You must have been satisfied once. You must have been happy once. You’re usually a happy person. That’s how the world knows you. And does it?

You’re all alone in the white-yellow brightness, in the throbbing aliveness of summer. Then the doorbell rings and you know you’re not. You’ll never be alone just when you want to be left alone. Enough already. Defiance deepens to something else. The heat behind your eyelids is sinking down into your breath. And suddenly you remember how to turn that into energy. You could be a poster-child for both, Freud and Einstein.

The doorbell is still ringing, the sounds getting closer. You imagine the doorbell getting pushed…the finger that pushes it…jabs it…RING….RING…RRRRIIINNNNNGGGGGGGGGGGG.

That’s the last thing you remember.

“No more questions, milord.”

This post also appears on Social Mantra.

Time Travel

Channel-surfing. Wait. Stop. Backtrack.

The Time-Traveler’s Wife is on, just started on one of those channels that comes and goes. Just like the protagonist in the movie. Hmm.

Odd flashes of nostalgia. The book was a birthday gift from my parents in 2007. Birthday gifts are special. Books are special. A good book on a birthday is well…you know. It was a Friday the thirteenth (just like the day I was born) which curiously enough, always bodes well for me. My birthday (just like my boyfriend and other friends) had been hijacked by another closely-birthday’ed person whom I loathed. I spent the weekend following, curled up with the book, the rain pelting down outside the window behind me. I’ve received books for every birthday of my adult life but I think this was the most memorable one.

Flash forward two and a half years. The movie came out without much fanfare, at least in India. I spotted it in an ad, by pure chance. The only show I could find was at 11:30 p.m. Normally, I’d probably have watched this particular movie by myself. But given the timing and the opportunity that it presented, I did something different and asked a guy I’d met recently, out. It was the first of what I thought of as pleasant conversations. And this is how that story turned out. Well, then.

Snap. The screen’s gone blank. The channel’s vanished on another of the cable-operator’s mysterious whims. And just like that, The Time-Traveler vanished.

Completion

Head on your lap
One leg crossed over the other
And lying on the sofa,
Watching TV

I was picking at an old scab
A wound that left an ugly mark
To remind me of all that I desperately try to forget
A strangely satisfying activity, that.

And I was telling you
Of things that I should have done, and said
Vindication! Revenge! Justice! Satisfaction!
But I was really just talking to myself.

Until you broke into my reverie
And you said,

“But that wouldn’t be classy.
And you’re always classy.”

And that was all.

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