The past two years have been difficult for me, personally , on so many levels. And then Covid happened, which put all of us and our lives on hold. Through all of this: What sustains us? What keeps us going? What memories do we try and erase and what memories do we keep?
I grew up in a home where photographs, black and white adorned the walls of our drawing room. There were pictures of my grandparents wedding in Baghdad, the two eldest boy and girl grandchild, a picture of my grandfather’s medals from the I and II World War in his British uniform and a picture of my aunt who died when she was only twenty -one. Memories, all over the house. I used to look at them and wonder why we had these antiquated pictures all over.
Decades later, with a boat full of memories myself, I suddenly realise the significance. I too have pictures, not on the wall like the home I grew up in but on my coffee and side tables. I put my tea mug down besides my grandparents picture which has me in it also, and suddenly realise, I don’t remember much any more. I don’t remember their voice. I don’t remember how they talked to me. I don’t remember….
I don’t remember much anymore. It scares me. They were my life line, my parents, why is their memory so faint? What did my grandmother smell like? what did she feel like? how did she and I talk?
My grandfather? What did he say to me? What did he do when I came back from school? What did we do together? Why can I not remember?
I sit with the photograph in my hand and go back to the day it was taken, I think I was about seven. Memories slowly creep back in. I try and remember why I put myself away. So lost in the tide of the future, I forgot my past. The past that really made me who I am today. I looked around and saw a picture of my son when he was three and my grandmother who was almost eighty five and me at twenty six. It was the day I left India to migrate to the US. How could I just bury all those years and not remember?
The memories that I have gathered in the past few years, which ones do I keep which ones do I erase? My mind is not a camera, one day those memories will be gone. What will I be left with?
In the world of covid that we are in today, where are the pictures? The selfies we have, but what about people, friends, acquaintances, every one who adds a fabric or a weave to our lives, what about those pictures?
What memories are we savouring and saving?
Today, I made a promise to myself, that everyday I would take time to look at my memories and cherish them, honor them and treasure them. Because Memories are all that I have left.