Exploring the lost past.
I do not recall being born, yet it surely happened. I do not remember being a baby, learning to walk, lisping, messing the diapers, waking up in the middle of the night, hungry or thirsty or sick, and staying awake, weeping in unknown griefs I carried over from my past life. I do not have with me the priceless memories of meeting my family that I so dearly love the first time, the repeated joys of colorful toys my parents must have brought me, the fear , the fun and the flight when my father threw me in the air and caught me in my descent, somewhere right above his head, and as my mother says, I would tumble like a waterfall of laughter and happiness and a rainbow would go up in the sky of her soul.
The most remarkable experiences of my life, where everything was changing by leaps every day, is no more.
If I am that kind of person, who believes only what I experienced, I must say I began somewhere in a corridor ahead of a tiny classroom in a brick-walled primary school with tin roofs, a red water bottle hanging around my neck, being forced by a strange lady to wave goodbye to a known person — someone who played with me a lot, who brought me colorful toys and things, who made faces at me, clapped at me, introduced himself as “I am your grandpa” a thousand times a day. It was precisely at that point of separation — I can say, I began to exist. It was a painful moment, and thus, my first memory, is of pain and separation, of transition to foreign from familiar.
Though I do not remember, someone strange must have asked me for the first time that day, “What’s your name?” I must have said it right.
I have memories of early school days, the car pool, the first friends, a remote toy car from China, the wonderful carpool owner who ferried us across the river every morning, Swapan Kaku, the steel tiffin boxes with my favorite meals, my parents anxiety to get me into a good school after a few months at the tin-roofed place. I remember everything after that, but, to my occasional great discomfort, I do not remember anything before. Though my parents and family has told me everything about how tiny and helpless I was when I came home for the first time, I still feel uneasy and robbed. There must be some missing details. For sure, my side of the story is missing.
On rainy days in Calcutta, where lives all my other childhood memories just in the shape and form I left them, when my eye catches the sight of sprouts and just born kittens, or birdlings in nest by window-sill, I cannot help but ponder, why we are robbed of our first experiences. I wonder if I could magically make everyone remember their first days here. Wouldn’t be delightful and inspiring to recall how I fell a thousand times before I walked? Wouldn’t it be motivating to remember how I picked up new languages to speak, with words, grammar and all the emotions? If I could, I could solve all my present learning challenges.
Also, I would have been a trillion times more thankful to my family than what I already am for giving me life and raising me.
If I have a child, can I make my baby remember the moment she meets me? I am curious, how will it be for her to meet me?
I reason that in our early years, we have no sense of self. We touch things for their newness, their appeal, naively not knowing that is us — who are new in an old setting full of old furniture, family, fruits, cars, streets, food, love, and in the shadows and curtains, lurking from the cobwebs, there’s hatred, jealousy, disease, and an eventual death. As long as we do not associate our sense of self to an experience, it does not register as a memory. Help someone selflessly, without any interest of feeling good, it is likely you won’t remember doing it soon enough.
Can we design something to digitally archive infant intelligence? Is it worth it, or will it be man’s greatest assault against god’s default design for life?
There are no answers. I have learnt that I will have to begin from scratch several times, building upon my own ruined castles, making bricks out of the ashes of burnt dreams, forgiving and moving on. We tend to think experience is an advantage, but in life, in its truest chaotic meaning, it is not. Forgetting my infancy was a cue, that I need not carry over happiness or grief to my next phases of life.