“Hi…How are you?”
An unknown number was asking me on WhatsApp. I suspiciously looked at the number, wondering who wanted to know my state of being on a lazy Sunday afternoon. I wanted to ignore it but I reminded myself not to be impolite, so I replied saying “I am good, who’s this?” And then the conversation started.
“Oh you don’t remember me from my profile pic”
“Sorry, no I don’t, could you please tell me your name”
“I am XYZ, from Jaipur”
I scanned my brain for all the Jaipur connections that I ever had, but couldn’t remember who XYZ was and by then I was also losing my patience to find out. So I thought it was best to quickly end the conversation and return to the book I was engrossed in.
“I think you have got the wrong number”
“Oh, are you not Shinu”
Of course I was, I couldn’t run away from it. And then she began explaining to me how we had met years ago through a common friend, it was as long conversation but even at the end of it I couldn’t remember who she was. But I was polite and had a brief chat with her before I could resume reading my book. Unfortunately now I couldn’t concentrate on reading. I began wondering why I forget people so easily, because this was not the first time that something like this was happening to me. Sometimes people send me messages on Facebook, WhatsApp and sometimes I even meet people who talk to me with so much familiarity that I literally want to shake my memory box and remember who they are. But my memory always fails me and I have a polite conversation and move on.
So this brings me to a very important question, in my more than 30 years of existence on this planet earth, what makes me remember some people and what makes me completely forget some.
First question I ask myself is – Do I have a bad memory? The answer is no because I remember many things from my childhood, I remember minute details of some projects I had worked on 10 years ago, I remember all the numbers that I have memorized and I remember the books that I have read as a child. So I guess I don’t have a bad memory. Then do I have a selective memory, I don’t even know if such term exists in the medical parlance, so I Googled it. And yes there is a term called as selective memory or selective amnesia which means that unnecessary facts, events, faces are eliminated by the automatic mechanism of the brain. (Remember the movie Inside Out). We choose to forget things that we don’t think is important and of course the medical websites go on describing it in such a complicated way that you end up thinking that you have some sort of personality disorder. So I decided to ignore that extra bit of information and feel pleasantly relieved to know that it’s just a normal thing.
Our brain is the most fascinating part of our body and even after years and years of research we are nowhere close to completely understanding its mechanism and behavior. But one fact remains that all memories are associated with emotions and we have the power to retain what we want. We can choose to remember the happy events over and over again and try to ignore the traumatic events of our life and eventually they will fade away. Well I guess that is the beauty of our brain and that is the lesson I learnt from this contemplation. So forgetting is not such a bad thing after all, it’s just my brain making space for new memories. So if you ever face the question of whether to forget or not to forget, I say just forget it 🙂