Some first impressions

In looking back through the years that have crept away I notice an unusual pattern. Memory which should have been cumulative, building upon a developing brain and an improving consciousness of my own place in this world, is in reality composed of a turbulent flow of images and remembrances. At some places the flow is lucid with well defined streamlines and deep clarity while at others it's frothy, indistinct and pliable to the extent of being uncertain. These patches of screeching clarity and rough disorder are mixed together in an unpredictable manner so that while there are dark gaps in some of my recent memories, some of the earliest ones are scrupulously near and visceral. As I tumble through the jumble of my mnemosyne with the past in flashes over the present, with the half-remembered ghosts of the times gone by reaching out to me in vague images and vaguer impressions of sounds and smells, I see the sepia-tinted world of my earliest childhood standing there, in front of me, quiet and graceful, as if assured that it would survive the obliteration of time by virtue of its own unblemished innocence. In the nonlinear fabric of time which has been scissored and patched and mutilated and half-assedly repaired far too many times,  the earlier folds are still pristinely white and unmarked. And yet if only I try to go far enough in the past this continuous flow of remembrances breaks and sputters and becomes patchier and patchier until it is merely constituted by single images which stand for their barely remembered contexts. The story of life at this point is a postmodern story, with abrupt cuts, incoherent narration and episodic nonchalance.

I have slippery impressions of our house in Bareilly (I must have been about 4). I see it basked in quiet sunshine behind the prison of its rusting gate. I remember the window behind which I would sit peering out at the barely paved street which would offer, in the dead hours of the sleepy afternoons, the welcome rings of the candy seller's bicycle. In that one simple image of that humble house with its lovingly arranged furniture, I have preserved in my mind the most viscerally felt idea of that quintessential twinkle of hope and ambition and love. That, to my conscious self, is where it all began. That image is, in a certain sense, the fundamental metaphoric building block of the world - the innocent effort of those who don't have very much to begin with towards building a life of some material and emotional consequence, and to do it all with reasonable honesty and morality. The vestiges of that house lingered on in my life for a long time. The oval dinner table was the last to go. But beyond these considerable material echoes which keep reverberating in the sonorous chamber of my memory, what persist stronger than ever are the very human notes of that image, the deep woody scents of the filial attachment and the floral chromatic accents of the sibling relationship.

2 observations on “Some first impressions
  1. Anurup

    Reading your prose after a considerable gap, and its as elegant as ever .
    But I am afraid your audience might not do justice to it 🙂


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