Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Short Story - That Evening at the park

 I have written a short story after quite a long time for the Notion Press Contest here at Singapore.

Please do read it and if you like it, please vote for me.

Short Story - That Evening at the park #Notionpress - https://notionpress.com/story/read/148

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Can we smell or taste in our memory?

These days, I go on a 30 minute bus journey every morning. Initially I tried making some random conversations with the people seated next to me - the weather, the traffic, politics, the dog next door that was addicted to barking - there were a whole lot of topics  in queue to quench my insatiable thirst to educate the world about my opinions and thoughts. "Quite rainy today right?" I would quip and the girl next to me would slowly turn in my direction . The earphones inconspicuously lodged behind her tresses, in her ears, would reveal themselves to me and I would make an embarrassed apology. I get bombarded with glares of "Why are you talking to me? Don't you have your own cellphone? How dare you pull me out of the virtual world?" Hence, I have decided to be content with the company of my mobile device or the characters of a book that I am reading.

Apart from spreading messages on whatsapp that have absolutely no value in improving my life or that of the receiver's I listen to music. I feel that the earphone is definitely a beautiful invention.The poetic beauty of the lyrics enveloped in the permutations of the musical notes can make me ecstatic.  That moment in my life, when I am letting myself get drenched in the notes emanating from the player into my ears is bestowed by the universe on me and belongs only to me! Nothing - work pressure, family responsibilities, the complexities of my own self can touch it.

Strangely, a song that I heard in the morning, would hibernate in my mind after I alight from the bus and suddenly start playing back sometimes in the evening or even the next day. A specific part of the piece where the voice, or the crescendo of notes, or the intensity of the lyrics had managed to strike a chord - subconsciously though, would go on a repetitive mode! This would result in me humming those lines and experiencing a minuscule slice of the pleasure I had gotten while actually listening to the song.

While brooding about this , I observed something. We have five senses - sight, taste, smell, hearing and touch! But can our memory repeat all of them? I think the lanes of memory are restricted to the senses of sight and hearing. Once can only recollect the pleasures or displeasure that we associated with these senses and the situations where we came across them, and not the actual sense itself! Oops, long sentence! Did that make sense?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
We call it mind's eye and yes. We often have memories as images and it is very easy to recollect a sight or a scene from the past. The teacher that said an interesting story, a picturesque scene from our holiday, scenes from the past that we relate to intense emotions, be it happiness or sorrow - hanging out with friends, moments with family, moments when we lost loved ones, moments when an accomplishment gently added itself to our cap of feathers , moments when we felt insulted, times when we felt embarrassed , the expressions of various people during these moments - They can come back and play like a movie in our heads. Think of a person that you are very attached to, then think of someone who derives pleasure in adding misery to your life. What came to your mind?

The same thing applies to hearing - We can recollect things people said to us and their voices would play back in our heads. I am sure that as you read this you are trying to do this in your head. Recollect something your boss, or your spouse or your friend said yesterday and yes, you can hear their voice , their words and their intonations too. Think of any song that you like and you can recollect the actual singer's voice be it male or female. Not just that but the entire set of musical and digital instruments that worked alongside in creating the song! The words that were said to admonish us would make their presence felt with absolute ease. I think they reside on the topmost layer of our memory. Words that caused us hurt would stay like a birth mark forever!

What about smell, taste and sight? I think the human brains abilities are a bit diminished with respect to reproducing these senses in our memory. Think of your favorite food. Biriyani, Icecream, Masala dosa! Whatever! Yes you can see sights of it in your mind, you may be filled with memories of when you ate it last or who makes it well. But can you actually feel the taste in your head? Yes your mouth might water but its at the memory or want of the pleasure. Not at actually experiencing it. If we could, how easy would it be to follow healthy diets right? We can keep eating salads and be satisfied with memories of tasting fries and burgers!

The same thing applies to smell too. Can we actually smell something in our memory?Go ahead, try smelling roses or sandalwood. Again we would be filled with memories related to it. For instance my memory rushes to Guruvayur temple and the priests there vigorously rubbing small blocks of sandalwood against rocks to make the paste given as prasadham. The sights and the sounds from the scene come back,but the smell? I would have to wait for my next visit to Guruvayur for that.