Richie Rich once said that he would rather have invented ice cream than anything else. I second that notion, but because ice cream and several other delicious, fattening things already exist, I’ll settle for a machine that selectively destroys memories.
There are things that you want to remember, others that you need to remember, yet struggle to because your head is already cluttered up with memories you’ll happily get rid of. For instance, when I went to get a drink of water a little while ago, I remembered our first neighbours in Vizag. Actually, I thought of their little white pup called Nancy, and of how the kids chased her around the house, calling: “Naan-zee! Naan-zee!” At nine, I was as terrified of dogs as I am today, and it took them a good deal of coaxing to convince me to feed a toothless puppy a slice of bread. I have faint memories of the nerves induced as a result, and the glass I broke, following which I took solace in doing the dishes at home (!). I must have been rather weird then, and I don’t quite like to think what those neighbours thought of me. I’m glad we moved a few weeks later.
I’d like to forget the bargains I made with God when I was eight, and the little troubles I had, because they seem quite insignificant now and reduce the respect I ought to have for the problems of childhood. After all, it’s all about perspective. However, I can’t help laughing at the thought of how seriously I took weekly tests and the silly but extremely ambitious stories I began writing (a tale for another day)- and how I bristled when some boys refused to discuss F1 with me, the dormant feminist rising to the occasion.
But see, these are things I don’t need to remember. I’d rather devote those compartments of my mind that insist on storing embarrassing details to memories of my first (and only) snowfall- I may never get to see one again! I can’t recollect the only F1 race I’ve been to as well as I’d like- why, even Wimbledon seems to have happened ages ago.
Now this machine I’m thinking of you should also let you destroy pertinent memories in other people’s heads: people have the aggravating habit of remembering the “cute” things you did when you were five and discussing them in public, when you’ve conveniently forgotten them and settled comfortably in the recently-found maturity (or so you believe) of adulthood. One of the things I dread most is a visit from someone I last met when I was six. That I made a fool of myself at a picnic by singing a movie song in public, when stage fear was an alien concept, is something I really don’t need to know. Why can’t they let us be, what is the point of dredging up these buried details safely consigned to cobwebbed tombs?
Even as I write, I am quite sure I’ll look back at this post ten years later with a snobbish, middle-aged tolerance: what was I thinking, I’ll say to myself. But maybe writing these things down will provide that grand-sounding catharsis that people talk of, and I’ll have a clean slate to begin filling up all over again? I’ve cut down on the fancy words a fair bit- I don’t use them half as often as I did when I was young and ambitious. Someday, I’m quite sure I’ll please even myself.