THE ENIGMA OF MEMORIES

I have often wondered about the power of memories and the deep, touching emotions these inspire. Some incidents in our lives and some of our mundane experiences do leave images of vague memories, not haunting but still in a way not quite forgettable, that bring back associations of various kinds that seem indelible, and from somewhere deep inside of us continue to influence our responses. I propose to share one such memory today with you all.

When I was little, I recall so many times when we visited with my Mom and sister, the home of our Grandparents, living in a pretty Connecticut community not very far from us, here in New Jersey. It was’nt a big house – actually it was rather small, cozy cottage kind, tucked away in a wooded lot, just off a beautiful fresh water lake.  

My Grandparents had a lovely garden. They had a hill at the back of the house with pretty think underbrush and rather heavily wooded. Over the years they had worked on reclaiming the slopes and created a three tier garden with steps going up in the middle and a winding path at one end coming down, with a little sit-out surrounded by azaleas and rhododendrons at the other end.

They also had, at that time, two Lhasa Apsos, one male and one female, both with golden coats who used to love nuzzling around the flower beds as we would walk around the garden or some times did a little bit of helping with our own set of garden tools. I bet we did a little more constructive contribution than the mere exploratory furrowing by the dogs. I did wonder why did they love to dig out with their paws the bulbs that I had just planted and then look up to me as if seeking my approbation for the good work they had done!

Let me add though that these were no ordinary dogs – they were the Kennel Club champions in their class from Hyderabad, India, where my grandparents resided before they came to the US. They showed class [or exhibited being spoilt] in many ways. If you took them out and it had rained, they would go around every puddle – one making a right and the other a left circle. I thought it was cute and classy – they did not want to wet their paws and they were no followers. Fun? Yes, watching, but hardly otherwise because oftentimes their leashes would get entangled and as you tried disentangling they would jump to get into your lap or go around you to the other side or start to wrestle with one another. What about the puddles and keeping their dainty paws clean – no more important; they had more exciting business on hand!

So even as the dogs did have claim to pedigree, I don’t think their mannerisms were the result of their awareness of their blood line. It seemed to come so naturally to them. As I learnt later the Apsos are one of the oldest recognized breeds in the world known for their penchant to jump into the coziest lap or occupy vantage points in the house from where they can view all that is going on. They stay clean and love to be fussed over. Highly pandered and prized, they were never sold and the only way to get one was as a gift. That is how I believe my Grand Father got them – a birthday gift from a very dear friend who almost kept a kennel of Apsos. 

Now that I am older at times these memories come flooding back to me. I love and cherish those reminiscing moments but when I come back to my rational, present moment state of awareness, kind of self, I try to think through what if anything these memories mean to me besides the vagrant flights of an uncontrollable consciousness. I try to rationalize and do find some answers. There is so much that we can and do learn as little people from plants and pets about life. Somehow though my heart does not quite agree with what my head says. My heart enjoys those few moments of beauty or of shared love that come my way and cherishes their memory. Not because I am a romanticist – not really. I do think that life is real and life is earnest, as the poet said but the choices in life are not only between right and wrong – they are also between beautiful, comely, aesthetic and that which does not inspire such nuanced emotions. So what I have shared sometimes makes me think of things sublime, things that I feel but do not grasp. But I know they have a meaning in our lives, even if I do not understand it yet. Perhaps someday I will and comprehend, appreciate, little more the abundant beauty that God has put in place for all the created beings to share and enjoy. Come to think of it the question of right and wrong dominates the human quest while the rest of creation lives on in harmony with the natural way the life goes on and has been. So may be my harking back to some memories is a sort of reconnection with my inner being – I really do not know!

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