By Megha Bajaj
What we choose to remember and what we choose to forget is entirely up to us, and that makes all the difference
|Megha Bajaj is above everything else a seaker. At time she tries to find herself through words. At other times, she attempts to understand herself by being with childern. |
Your mother had cancer, right?” asked someone with a pained expression. I was stunned. Somehow, our family’s experience with cancer seems like a distant memory. Even in memory, there is more love and courage associated with the eight months of treatment than anything else. I smiled foolishly at the person who asked me the question as images popped into my head. Four of us – dad, mom, my sister Nidhi, and I laughing in the hospital. The four of us meditating in the night. Mom laughing at the loss of her hair with the cancer treatment. Dad applying sticky smelly oil to mom’s scalp – smiling, loving, grumbling all at once.
I realised at that moment that life is nothing but a series of memories. Every moment that passes becomes a small fragment of my mind in the form of a memory. It is up to me whether I choose happy memories, or the painful ones. Do I slip into reminiscence with a gentle smile or a scowl? What he said, what she said, what he did, what she did, will all result in nothing but a memory – so why not only keep the worthy ones? Sure, the negative ones too must be lurking in some dark corners of my mind – but the less I recall them, the weaker they become, the more unwelcome they become, to march around my mind and create havoc.
I had a quarrel with my husband. We both said quite a few nasty things to each other. We raked the past, we abused the present and questioned the future. However, at the end of it all, it ended with both of us weeping, and realising how much we meant to each other. There were hugs and holding of hands. We decided to remember not the hurt, but the healing power of love, we kept in mind the adoration not the abhorrence, we memorised the gentle words, not the stream of insults, and that is why we are closer than we ever were. Memory… just a memory. Yet, which I choose and which I leave out, makes all the difference.
“You will never be good at English,” said my teacher ten years ago. Although her words were meant to hurt, in my memory, I only remember a young girl in a blue uniform looking back with raised eyebrows. I had said nothing. But even then, I remember thinking, “No teacher, I will learn English. I will.” Even in memory, there was no sense of humiliation or failure. Indignation, yes. A chance to prove myself, perhaps. Recently, after having finished a book, the same teacher wrote me an email saying, “I am privileged to have known you.” Probably none of it would have been possible if somehow my mind had not chosen to keep the memory of this moment as a challenge rather than as the death sentence of my capacity to learn English.
What you say to me is not in my control. What life brings to me is not in my control. Nevertheless, as I sign off for the day, what memories I choose to keep in safe possession, what memories I choose to ignore, remains only in my control.
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