I read somewhere that the memory which is not retrieved even once is the most pure one. When we retrieve memories, it seems we modify it – add more color to it, rationalize it, make it change to how we wish the event was, reduce or increase the intensity etc. If that is the case, I might have a lot of memories which are pure – those that I never care to remember or shut it out as soon as I go anywhere near it. Or because I rarely speak much about the past and ruminate for hours with someone.
Maybe the tape is getting overwritten also a lot with lot of junk data. I sometimes wonder when people talk about same stories over and over again, whether they are oblivious of whether the same audience is bored or not – I think they simply don’t remember or register. When I read about face blindness, I thought that is rare – but there are a lot of people who don’t seem to recognize people they have met. I feel I store too much of such random data – of random people, random events, conversations, stories, comments someone has made, newspaper articles. I have always been an observer, without interrupting the drama that is going around me. But I worry that I am overloading on such minutiae.
My wife’s grandmother is with us – she tell us stories from her childhood, with such fine details that I start worrying that I remember far less about my childhood compared to hers and she is 78 years old. My wife knows almost every teacher who taught her from kindergarten to engineering – I don’t remember names of even one teacher from my college days, maybe since I didn’t establish any meaningful teacher-student connection after my school days.
This memory block became so apparent recently during a session, about unconscious bias. We were asked to write down how we identify ourselves (malayali, parent, IT, vegetarian), one instance that caused us pain due to such a label and another instance where we felt proud. I couldn’t identify any instance where I felt proud – that was embarrassing. One reason could be because I believe I am an intense critic of myself, so every instance that could have been taken credit about or felt proud about, would have been analyzed threadbare and concluded that either I can’t take credit 100%, I didn’t deserve it fully or the perceived success is not so much of a success after all. For example, the person to whom I was supposed to share told me that I could have identified myself as a blogger/writer – it hadn’t even occurred to me in the first place! I never thought of myself as one – even though I am now in the 10th year of blogging. Some of these I write because I think about it too much. This same blogpost about memory – I had thought about it at length, even more beautifully I think, 2 days back while trying to sleep – didn’t get to write then. So it was hatching in my mind and now getting birth in an artificial way compared to the original form. Other than that I don’t know why I even write and the writing as such is far inferior to those that I admire.
The only thing that I could say was I felt proud of having reached so far in my life, just being here. It was true.
I remember telling someone that I have no ambition and getting a reply that it is not good to have no ambition in life. But it was true. I didn’t have a grand design, I just went with the flow. I believe life so far was a random billiards game where one hit of a ball ricocheted on other and kept it going in its natural flow.
I remember getting introduced to computer in 8th standard. I remember that I liked programming, in VB to start. I had written a set of programs where I could draw intricate patterns – a circle within which a pattern is drawn, using some formulae to make it symmetric, it could create different patterns with different inputs and in different colors. I remember that I was very fond of drawing and water coloring such patterns in my drawing book those days. But I don’t remember how I wrote it, whether I chanced upon the logic or I devised it ingeniously. I remember after a long time, trying to write the same program and struggling with it.
I remember that I was physically sick after cutting open a cockroach – the last time I did that. I never went back to the labs after that. Hence the ball changing its direction towards maths and engineering. I remember that I loved maths – so much so that, I had ignored other subjects. I remember being almost at the verge of tears after engineering entrance exams when there were so many questions from some obscure topic which I don’t even remember now. I remember coming out of the exam hall and meeting my teacher in the grounds.
I remember someone telling me that I should have opted computer science rather than electronics since that is where the jobs are – just after I gave in my choice and took admission. How I wish that advice was strong enough and on time – atleast my 4 years of engineering would have been remembered. As it stands, I don’t remember anything that was taught in Electronics engineering.
I remember the day before Infosys interview, when I first encountered Shakuntala Devi’s puzzle book. I remember trying to solve those puzzles with a bunch of friends – next day, I was in such a flow during the test that I remember somehow that I scored the highest in the test that day – don’t know if it is the right memory, but that’s how I remember it.
I remember that getting into mainframes in Infosys – I remember that I liked mainframes and that I somehow was getting good at it, don’t remember what I liked exactly. I remember moving to a Java project next and arguing passionately with someone about how to design, person whose name came up quite accidentally two days back. I remember moving to a package implementation next and being told by my DM that I am like Hanuman who doesn’t know his strengths, so go and debug an Oracle Forms issue even though I haven’t seen Oracle Forms before.
I remember coding feverishly at night, in total panic that I am losing control, trying to fix a data migration in production which was fully designed by me – with a customer in phone on the other line. Then the same customer contact giving me a Baby Shower party with so many gifts and song written about me by one of her team members – I had forgotten about that. That is a happy memory, except that the system that I built and supported didn’t last too long, project getting awarded to a competitor. And then sitting in the lobby with the same customer, asking whether I would like to quit Infosys and join them. Even if I didn’t show it, I must have felt proud of being considered valuable enough to join them then.
Now I guess the memories are coming thick and fast and I should stop – to not disturb any other memories remaining which may still stay pure for longer time.
One last – in between all these randomness, I definitely remember meeting my wife in Infy – another swing of the billiard ball..:) So yes, even through a series of accidents, I have reached so far, which in itself is a big thing.