Lately, I’ve been looking at the past in multiple senses. It’s not nostalgia, nostalgia rings with a sense of positivity, this is not nostalgia. Everyone has cringe-worthy memories, stupid decisions, moments of weakness, things they’d rather not think about. While I love this city it’s littered with such memories. It’s good to belong to a place but the reason why we want to leave for a while, or the reason why I like travelling for a bit is that I need to escape these memories.
It’s hard to be trapped in your past and present in a constant state of discomfort. Some moments are isolated from the rest. You think you’ve grown to let the not-so-great-memories pass, to look back with some strength without feeling bile rise in your throat. But how do you fight a memory when your heart still remembers the scars? You know it happened, that not much can change things but you’re holding on to something related to those memories, whatever it is you can’t figure it out.
Today as I finished another Taiwanese series, I felt a sense of deja vu. I didn’t identify with the characters in their entirety, just bits of their personality which reminded me of my own life. As I got home from work and walked from my bus stop to home, I relived little bits of my past, I could see all those things happen again and the emotions joined the reunion party. I even paused in certain spots involuntarily just feeling my throat constrict like I wish I could turn back time and undo all of it. It’s overwhelming.
I know tomorrow I’ll wake up, it’ll be different and what’s done is done, but when I saw the protagonist trip in the series out of clumsiness I felt the memory of my own clumsy acts, except somebody caught her before she fell, me? I break my own fall. The male protagonist said that scars are not good, because they are reminders. I looked at my knees, the scars of so many falls while learning to skate, running on the playground. I looked at the tiny fading scar of the dog bite from when I was four and the burn mark on my arm. I guess I disagree grudgingly with him. I think without the scars you can never learn.
Bad memories are the run-up to good memories. Of course, they hurt, you miss your naivety while chiding it. But the aftermath of how you got up and healed over time, we often don’t remember that. I have a memory box, filled with random stuff, like tickets, erasers, paper clips and sandpaper. I look at those things from time to time and wonder, why? Could I not find anything else to keep? They’re the most boring memories if you ask me. But younger me found it important so I respect her wishes and place them back into the tin that I got on a flight, and used it after I finished eating the contents.
There’s an innocence in the memories we choose to keep. I have even kept a stone from the river when I skipped my first stone courtesy to my Dad teaching me. When I look at the stone it immediately triggers a series of pleasant memories. So yes today, as I walked home I wanted to run because I couldn’t bear the memories, embarrassing, idiotic memories that are just bad events, stupid conversations that ended up hurting me over and over again until I learnt to respect myself.
Often we repeat the same mistakes, thinking that we’ll be better the next time. It doesn’t work that way, chances are we’ll do it all over again just because. I remember in London when I was in my room I just spent an entire night watching sappy Bollywood movies that were filled with cliches like, ‘Jaane Tu….Ya Jaane Na‘ (Whether You Know…..Or Not) and the famous but ridiculous airport scene. I remember when I was younger and our DVD player worked, my parents would allow us to rent a movie from the store every weekend to watch. During this particular movie, I remember I wanted to aspire for a life like that. Free, impulsive and reckless.
That night, I had a lot of food, aerated drinks, everything bad for the body basically. Sat on my bed among my pillows in the dark and thank god for thick walls because I was screaming at the screen while stuffing my face whenever the characters did something stupid. Yesterday I was doing the same thing during the series. You know what’s going to happen but you still feel angry at the characters. Friends have often told me I talk a lot during movies, maybe I do. It was one of my best nights in London. I fell asleep to another random bollywood movie.
Today I was itching to run off to another city. Just pack my bags and go off on my own. Whether in Delhi or London, I used to take my random trips around the city because I needed an escape. I can’t do the same here because everywhere I go there are more memories. In Delhi and London, I hadn’t made too many memories in every part of the city nearly on every street corner. Here it’s an outburst of memories and everything feels weird. I am always concerned that I might run into someone I know. So now I scroll through my photos from my trips and escapades without friends, without family, on my own. Trips I told no one about.
I guess I need a release, the past will remain where it was. But maybe like overwriting a CD or a cassette, I can overwrite these memories with better ones. I salute my past for all the embarrassment but I want to believe I’m a better person and I don’t think that’s going to happen just like that. What about the past? It exists, but the reason why it’s the past is that I have gone beyond it, I’ve walked miles away from it. The fact that I have a past means it’s not yet the end, wouldn’t you agree?