TODAY -

Memories

Chingkheinganba Thangjam *



Often, most of it feels like a grainy silent film played at twice the normal speed so unless you really squint and look very closely, you cannot even tell who the people are anymore. Every frame has been vignetted by time; some are completely dodged out and some just corroded beyond repair. But, as the film rolls, it gets stuck at certain points every now and then and you get to see a single frame gawking at you. The film will not progress if you do not manually skip the stuck frames.

Does it matter if film is nitrate or celluloid, digital or analog? If you choose to keep it, the film will stay forever; on dusty neglected shelves, piled up in a corner in the basement with other junk that you have always wanted to discard but have walked back in again with them not knowing why they are so useless yet so precious. As actual printed frames on your bedroom wall, by your bedside table or as tear-stained, sweat-smudged, fading photographs in your wallet or simply inside an encrypted directory on a hard disk hidden behind old winter clothes in your cupboard. Whether it stays as a scar, stain or a tattoo, an embroidered pattern on a silken scarf that comforts your mind, again it does not really matter; they will stay.

They take all forms and manifest themselves in several ways: psychedelic visions, savage drunken stupor, songs, poetry or they just resonate in the dark night as muted yet spontaneous laughter or they can come as tears, mercilessly flooding your pillow like salty sea water lashing against a reef.

A hardly discernable whiff of that one particular perfume no one but you can smell it. It is so faint but it could not have been stronger for you; you are overwhelmed as an old film begins to play in your head. You feel weak in the knees and wobble your way towards the nearest park bench. You sit down, stare up at the sky and the clouds roll in and out at high speed, and you are not sure anymore if you are looking at the sky or the ocean. Just like a market square being cleared for a public demonstration, the world around you dissolves away quickly. In its place, another world appears, ghostly as it looks, and you watch yourself there right in front of your own eyes. It's like a film. It is a film. and the person from the past who wore the perfume walks into the scene. You cannot feel yourself sitting on the park bench anymore.

For someone, it is the smell of fresh wet earth after the first rain of the year. For you, it could be the fragrance of wood and moss. For him it is the scent of burnt leaves in Autumn. For them it could be the mischievous alliance of pinewood and roses floating carelessly in the air. It could be burnt herbal incense too, or even soap. Whatever it is, smells they can take you back in time! And smells do not think like you do. They have no emotion and no feelings. They do not care. They can drag you back to that night in summer years ago when you made love to that person and swore under the blinking stars that you were going to be theirs forever, which of course did not happen as "forever" simply meant "as long as functionally possible", or they can shackle your limbs and toss you back to that dreadful afternoon when you stood in front of a hospital bed helplessly watching a loved one pass. Yes, and smells can take you back to that morning when you hit a fence and did a rather unwilling and not-so-stylish bicycle somersault after seeing your highschool crush in the distance. You lost one front tooth but amidst all the blood and pain and embarrassment, you immediately treasured the moment when they came running towards you and nursed your wounds yes, that touch and that concerned look in their eyes.

A dusty country-road, misty blue mountains, a frozen lake, a tropical sunset or cicadas singing at dusk somewhere far away in a village by the river where mothers cook dinner over woodfire stoves, it does not matter. A noisy city, a busy airport, mad traffic, glass and steel buildings, second-hand books sold stacked along footpaths, and by night, cigarettes and alcohol, broken neon signs luring passersby into a strip club, flavoured condoms and street prostitutes, or a homeless woman wandering about looking for an empty bench for her semi-conscious starving baby to lay on again, it does not matter.

What matters really is whether they will become memories or not. And, am I sensitive enough to feel everything yet strong enough to not lose control when the film starts to play later?


* Chingkheinganba Thangjam wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer can be reached at http://life-handheld.net
This article was posted on January 06, 2014.


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