Sunday, January 27, 2013

Memories like onions

When I opened this blank page I intended to write something quite different. I had bounced between windows and chased hyperlinks trying to wrap my head around the issues of the day. Battling patriarchy and the right to take offense, corruption in politics and everyday life, parochialism in national awards, our dismal rating on the human development indicators, and so much else. How does one make sense of anything? Easier, so much easier, to burrow inside a chosen fictional world and take flight with one (not-too-intense) fantasy or another.

But again, that's not what I am writing about. I wanted to wonder, instead, about the layered nature of our moments. For instance. I sit here at my laptop which sits on a large rosewood desk covered in kalamkari fabric which I know needs to be pulled off and washed; my mind is half directing my fingers on the keyboard but they seem to have a life of their own; the other half (quarter? tenth?) is taking in the constant sound of the television that is switching between the replay of the Ozzie Open and a Dakota Fanning movie and something else I can't quite catch; and whatever's left is thinking about tomorrow and what needs to be done (always, always).

So we're having dinner and watching Animal Planet and one part of me is thinking about my cousin Rajee who makes the best, crisp-est dosas and another part is remembering how Achala, age two, could name all these exotic Amazonian animals. I take a taste of mulagai podi and remember my grandmother who always added a dash of jaggery when she made it.

My mind is like that bioscope that I once read about (or heard sung about in an old Hindi movie song--dekho, dekho, dekho, baa-yi-scope dekho), flitting between images sometimes unrelated, snatches of lives gone before, lives imagined and shared in the telling...but unlike the serial flow of the bioscope frames, the pictures in my mind are stacked in a translucent heap, one swimming to the top at a time but never quite edging the others out.

So every time I chop onions I think of the good doctor in Ian McEwan's Saturday, peeling an onion in such haste that he cuts through the good bits as well, and when I happen to note the time at 9:15 p.m. I think of my friend Sarika listening to the trundling of the Mumbai Express through Begumpet station and thinking of her family in Pune...whose memories, exactly?

Would be nice, I think, to block this rush of colour and sound for a while and hold my mind calm, quiet, white, that I could write my own ideas on it and maybe turn them into that story that keeps getting interrupted.


Apzz said...

How true! You described my state of mind every time I think of writing something.

Suroor said...

Describes the state of my mind completely! And I think it's compounded by exposure to information technology. And the fact that, as we grow older, we have more memories. I love tracing our thought processes--the links are so personal.