Monday, September 10, 2012

Day 6 - Wordsworth called memory the "inward eye." Are your memories more sight-based, or do they concern sound, taste, touch, or smell?

Aha, this almost feels like a personal interview, these series of prompts! I am not sure how I can justify blogging on them without getting too personal or egotistic. I shall try to keep it as general as possible :-)

Inward eye - the one that sees sans sight. The one that conjures up images, known and unknown to create a surreal world around those images and memories. Memories consist of all the senses in my inward eye. It is amusing how one thing digs out others associated with it.

My earliest memory was of touch and smell - the kindergarten English book, that looked crisp and spotless the day my parents bought it. Someone prompted me to smell it - and I opened a book to draw in the smell of God knows what! - May be it was a concoction of freshly milled paper and freshly applied printing ink. I don't quiet remember what it contained except that it had a poem about Punch and Judy - who fought for a pie - and A king that summoned up to his band of three fiddlers that played a 'Diddle diddle' kind of number for him. To this date, I inhale the smell of new books, foolishly hopeful that it would bring back memories of early childhood. Each one smells different - but I am yet to come across the exact smell of that first English text. Once I stumble upon it, I am sure it shall excavate quiet some memories.
My dad's uncle (my grand uncle) once got him a travel gift set consisting of three mini fragrances tucked into a hard plastic case. My dad used to use them all religiously. Not until early 2000s did I realize that the smell that lasted on him for so long, almost as a signature, did so because, it was a huge brand. During my initial days in the US, I spotted the same pattern on one of the trench coats I saw in a high end boutique'Burberry' The checks of black and brown, arranged so eye catchingly on a tan background - the company's signature, thus gave me truck loads of childhood images -  the side yard, my dad's rattan easy chair on the cemented surface, the smells from the adjacent kitchen, the shade of the large coconut tree, the ruffle of the news paper in my dad's hands, the froth on freshly brewed caffe latte that my dad used to sip first thing in the AM and the gaudy green door, enormous by any standards, that shut off the side yard like a solid wall once we closed it at night - all come up with one association - one really, foreign, remote association - the signature checks of Burberry London.
This summer, my husband brought home a carton of fruit, obscenely priced for just that - a carton of fruit. On the side it read "Alphonso Mangoes" product of India. One big dig into the luscious fruit and I was magically transformed into an era of tights and teased hair. Though I had tasted mangoes from far and wide during my almost decade and a half stay in the united states, this particular bite took me back into a time that seems to be more of a dream and less of an existence. Pureed fruit served in steel cups with steel spoons, 'seed wars' to claim the center part of the mango, the flesh that surrounded the huge seed. Scorching summers that made us sweat buckets, tropical fruit, sultry climate, summer break, grand mother's tamarind rice, Grandfather's 'Materia Medica' volumes, sweet and small sugar pills melting in the mouth, plastic bangles, garish bead necklaces, Hollywood pink nail polish, box pleated skirts sewn at home, snap close pencil boxes, little palettes of water color cakes, rickshaw rides to the school and back.....the list is endless.

Music consists of the most of my memories. God bless Youtube, which allows me to transform into primary school, high school, teen days of dreams and crushes - all at the punch of a few keys. Every stage of my life has a song index. It is a real boon to be able to feel 17 when you are in mid thirties, glory to the music, the musicians - the meories just sprout like an all new life, almost giving me a second chance at living those years.

Memories are really like a drug - a strong device of time travel that makes us defy age. They are truly the inward eye, the one that lets us peek into the past, sometimes bringing us to an "aha" moment. And one does not need to be 'Wordsworth' to bask in their glory, blabber in their shade.



  1. Reflection10:45 PM

    7th day yet to dawn?

  2. mango seeds! aha!

  3. Well written post...

    I shall leave you with this thought - it's kind of relevant to the situation.

    “But a chance tone of colour in a room or a morning sky, a particular perfume that you had once loved and that brings subtle memories with it, a line from a forgotten poem that you had come across again, a cadence from a piece of music that you had ceased to play— I tell you.... that it is on things like these that our lives depend.”
    - Oscar Wilde.