Fading memories – From Maha Kavi to Murakami

Recently I am hooked onto this Tamil song called ‘Asai mugham marandhu poche‘ written by Maha Kavi Barathiyar. (Meaning: I have forgotten the face of my love) It is about a woman telling her friend how she is forgetting the face of Kannan and how the memory of his love and affection still is fresh but his face is fading away. She feels guilty as she thinks what use are her eyes if she cannot picture him. To be noted, I am plainly stating the translation and not the metaphor behind it because I believe that the beauty of the metaphor lies in the ability of the reader to interpret the emotion.

As a kid, I was always worried that I would forget someone’s face if I didn’t see them for a while. I felt that I was maybe not emotionally attached to them or that I had some inherent issue of being emotionally detached from people. This is probably true since it is not that big a deal for me to sever ties and detach myself from most people. I have grown to accept that for all it’s good and bad. However honestly, I have also caught myself trying to desperately hold onto the mental image of some people. I carry a picture of them some times or I keep revisiting their images from my photo album just to remind myself of how they look. And maybe that is why one of my favorite activities to do during free time is rummaging through old photographs. Any time ready to board a bus down memory lane!

All of us have occasionally come across the picture of that one person who stirs a storm within us. Their image teleports us to another time and the after taste is not always good. Maybe that is why human brain is designed in such a way as to forget some people little by little over time. That is nature’s way of forcing us to let go of some people that don’t need a place in our life anymore.

But what doesn’t easily leave are the memories associated with that person. What stays with us for the longest period of time are the intangible portion of tangible parts of them. That is, how the fabric of their apparel felt, how warm was their skin, if they had an ear lobe that was folded, maybe a tiny scar on their finger etc. It’s really funny you remember the micro aspects but when you try to weave it together the outcome is far from satisfactory. I really would like to know the scientific answer to that. Maybe so that I can erase the micro aspects too! Or piece it together properly and tuck them away in the archive of my memory. What is astounding though, is that nothing is permanent. ‘Forever’ is the biggest scam of human history.

I just finished reading ‘Norwegian Wood’ by Haruki Murakami and one of the lines that caught my attention when I was reading the sample was this. “She knew that my memories of her would fade. Which is precisely why she begged me never to forget her, to remember that she had existed. The thought fills me with an almost unbearable sorrow. Because Naoko never loved me”

As I read that, I had a swelling in my throat because I had once uttered the exact same words ‘remember that I existed’. As I read it I realized how important it is for me to not fade away from someone’s memory. But I am sure that beyond promises that were made, I have faded from that person’s memory. I am like the lighthouse by the beach, the same size and form but the ship has drifted away. And so it sees me as some insignificant speck of light. But hey, that’s life I suppose! The more we hold on to something the quicker we feel it slipping away.

What if we didn’t see our own self in the mirror for a few days, would our image of ourself begin to distort? I guess that is an experiment worth the time!

Until I find answers to my insane questions, let’s rejoice and bask in the memory that is still there and let go without hesitation that is parting its way from us.

One Comment

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *