Memories can sometimes wreak havoc with sense and normalcy. They can send your thoughts spinning wildly, not caring in the least that they belong to you and are being needlessly cruel. Regret and pain rise to the surface with astonishing ease, and ebb away too, in similar fashion. It is hard to explain.
It is hard for me to consciously regulate memories. They are triggered off by the most unnoticeable elements, giving rise to an inexplicable gamut of emotions.
It is a familiar pain. The pain of the knowledge that childhood is past you. And the times associated with it. The summer vacations, the carefree freedom of days when you were not wholly responsible for your actions. When hurt could be soothed or talked away, for it wasn’t accompanied by any clear consciousness of consequences; coherence was limited to what innocence defined, not blurred by the meanness of the grown-up world. To be an adult was considered, oh so foolishly, a luxury, and anticipated with the endearing impatience that can only be attributed to childhood. When birthdays had a significance and advancing in age was looked forward to, because it brought you a step closer to that most sought-after age of your favourite cousin whom you hero-worshipped (but who, sadly, grew older as well, and gradually drifted apart from you).
Nostalgia doesn’t limit itself to childhood. It can extend to as recently as last year, last week, yesterday. I don’t even know if it is nostalgia. I don’t know if I want to go back to the past. I am happy now. Was I happier then? I cannot answer this question. I don’t know how happiness is measured or compared. I don’t know why memories should flood and overwhelm a supposedly satisfied soul, in which the cravings are but those born of natural ambition and dissatisfaction. The past presses heavily on the present, imposes boundaries on the future, mapping out a predictable course, fostering resistance.
The memories come easily. The slow rotation of the fan as it slices through the warm air, raising up a severely limited storm that is deceptively cold, Sufi music heard long ago and admired, raagas ingrained in the soul. Languages, voices, fragrances, faces. Triggers.
The longing will not die out. Not as long as we are human, in our adult sense of the word. I miss those days. Of childhood, last year, last week; yesterday. I cling with human wantonness to what I cannot have at the moment, and therefore more particularly miss. I miss my books, the Margazhi fortnight at home when whole days are spent waiting for the one-hour kutcheri on TV, and two hours tearing it apart with the meagre knowledge of an ordinary listener, discussing it with Paati and disagreeing with her. I hate to say this, but tonight, I think I am actually sentimental and homesick.
It’ll pass. I’m human, after all, and possess that ephemeral attention span (an unfortunate product of worldly practicality) that’ll carry me to other things in a little while, entirely against my will. Much as this self-inflicted pain brings immeasureable pleasure, it’ll be replaced by pragmatic considerations and biological needs. Call me fickle, but it’s true.
I am slipping away already.