I read a post recently about the links between the power of smell and memory. It is known that the areas of the brain which receives information about smell, links directly with the section which controls emotional reactions and the hippocampus, which controls the collection of memories. So, smells, in a very literal sense are closest to memories.
The post set me thinking about my earliest memories. My earliest memories are specific incidents, random events which have stubbornly refused to fade away, while more interesting or important events have been erased, and I know about them only as second-hand memories passed on to me by my parents.
I remember my Nani like the light of day - asking her for money to buy sweets and complaining about my mother. I remember my father telling me stories and falling asleep because he used to be tired. (I remember how Ramayan was the only story he told me, which was ambitious given that he had put in 10 hours at work and then taken my mother and I out to the club.)
I wanted to see the Hailey's comet and wanted to wake up early in the morning to see it. I used to set the alarm every night, when it was here (in 1985?). I could not ever wake up, and wondered if I will be alive next time it came around (I like to think of myself as an inquisitive child, not a geek).
I remember going to see my sister for the first time. For some reason, I do not remember my mother growing fatter before that. I was late to school that day and was anxious about it. Missionary schools have inspired much dread in me. Always.
When in Assam, for a period of four years and then some, I used to go to a school in Digboi, some 30 kilometres away from home. There was a company car, which took me and a few others to school and back. Back in those days, there was not much traffic and the journey was singular at its best. (Later, there was some excitement when central rule was declared by Narasimha Rao, and we used to see Army columns and wave at them.) Anyway, I realised that I had gone up and down the same road so many times that I should remember the whole journey. I tried it both ways and realised that I remembered it more on the way to school than on the way back. I guess that had something to do with the fact that my mind is usually blank in the morning and hence, more receptive. This also implied that I should study early in the morning (not tested yet).
There is one more thing which I ponder about - when we look back at life and remember only patches of it - are we not shortening our lives? As in, if I do not remember various things about my own life, does it really matter that I lived it. I know it does and this is a very selfish/individualistic stand, but I sometimes get worried about this. I do not want to look back at life, say after 30 years, and know only as a mathematical fact, that I have lived for 60 years.
I really hope there is more to it than a subtraction.