I worry, as always, not just about the time I am losing. I also worry about the memories that I think I keep losing.
I do not know how you can lose something that has happened. Maybe the memories fade and I no longer have the potent magic of recasting myself into my previous selves. In a way, it is liberating. In many ways it is sad.
So in order to revisit some of my memories, I am re-reading books that I had read long back.
I recently finished Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Reading about Alice’s absurd adventures, the surreal whirling world filled with magical creatures, shifting times, shapeshifting figures, felt comforting. It helped me reconnect with my own younger self.
I must have been eight or nine when I first read the book. It was an unabridged version with Tenniel’s illustrations. I remember reading it in one sitting, sitting in a corner on an afternoon when the whole world was asleep.
Alice’s rabbit-hole was not intimidating. Alice’s child-like innocence in the face of disappearing Cheshire cats and other such curious happenings elicited happiness. I remember a happy child and it warms my heart.
However, it did get curiouser and curiouser. The more I read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the more I felt Lewis Carrol had captured an essence of absurdism about life that is hard to put a finger on. Among mad adults and even madder children, I was trying to find meaning where there is none.
It is a whole mad tea-party.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is so enduring because of the unquestioned madness that pervades this universe. Friends I know are busy in their own tea parties. Bright-eyed humans populate the world wholly convinced that they are right sized.
“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”
I find it reassuring to constantly reach out and touch my younger memories. I find that I am not formed with a pop or a bang. There is a story. My story. It does not make sense. It need not make sense.
I turn this way. Then I turn that way.
There are many demands on my time, but the needs sometimes seem glassed away and hoary, exactly like how Alice finds the looking glass world. There are fragments of childhood that make their way into my adult world, and like anachronistic throwbacks, I delight in those moments when I smile with my younger self.
I still remember when, as a kid, I came across a discarded whiskey bottle outside a house in our housing complex. Later at some point, I heard an adult mention how the owner was a drunk. In true fashion, those two happenings together melded into an everlasting impression of drinking and wasted lives. Today, when I sip whiskey, I laugh at that memory. I pretend that the whiskey is a shrinking potion that telescopes my mind to the past. I slip and shrink into the past and present and let myself be confused at who I was and who I am.
Like Alice’s abrupt change of scenarios, I snap out of that reverie into something else.
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where –”
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
The memories that I am sad to see disappear are like the Cheshire cat. They materialize and disappear. Grinning and gleeful, always confident in their eventhood. They have happened. Even past memories, because they have been thought of, become concrete.
Every now and then, just like I am doing now, I pen them down. Pin them down. Catch them. They dry and stick beautifully. I visit them like a lepidopterist. They are my petri dishes of identity. I do not always feel better when I think of them. Yet I compulsively collect them.
I would have given more structure to this blog, a little more direction, and purpose, but it is curiously liberating to keep going and not rewrite.
To those who don’t know how it will all end;
“Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”