Telescope of time: As you grow older, you remember clearly long ago things, and often forget recent events

One of the funny things about growing older is that we can very clearly recall things that happened a long time ago, while we often forget what happened recently.

I recall vividly the first time i was given a piece of chocolate. I was six years old at the time, and was used to the taste of very sugary Indian sweets, like jalebis and barfis. The chocolate tasted horribly bitter to me, and i spat it out in disgust, wondering how on earth people could bring themselves to eat such foul stuff.

I can conjure up the glossy, fresh-ink-and-paper smell of my brand new text book, Reading And Thinking, which we studied in Class IV with white-haired Miss Slater, who everyone agreed looked like a witch but was the nicest teacher in the whole of La Martiniere for Boys, Calcutta.

I can scent the salt tang of the sea breeze in Kutch Mandvi, with its stone paved winding alleyways and the silver-dazzle of its beach in the blinding light of the noonday sun, which was my family’s ‘native place’, and which we would visit every winter of my childhood.

I can savour the creamy softness of my tenth birthday cake, which was shaped like a plane, because i wanted to be a fighter pilot when i grew up.

I can remember all this, and a thousand things more, which happened so long ago, but if you asked me what i had for lunch the day before yesterday, i’d be hard pressed to give you an answer.

They say that remembering what happened years past but forgetting recent events could be an early warning signal of Alzheimer’s. Perhaps it is in some cases, but i’d like to think that the general tendency to recall the past with the detail of immediacy while being absentminded of more up-to-the-moment happenings can be assigned a reason less dire than an imminent onset of the dreaded ‘Big A’.

As we grow older, time and memory seem to telescope, so that the distant past is brought into sharp focus in the mind’s eye, while the close-up calendar blurs into fuzziness.

Our long-past memories could be a consolation for a not-so-long future, swiftly shortening the present-day by fleeting day.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

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