Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Surprising memories

I can't believe I am sitting and typing out this post. Not only because its past midnight and I should be sleeping, but also because its day 2 of reading week for me and I am way behing schedule. This is my one chance to catch up. But I really couldn't help myself. All this just because of a cat's meow!

I love studying in the middle of the night. Things are dead silent in my hostel and the environment is just about perfect to go on a studying marathon. In all this silence, even the tiniest noise tends to draw one's attention. As I was sitting and trying to get my head around the stuff written in my textbook, I heard a cat's meow. A very faint one. Within a split second, a whole bunch of memories came flooding my mind and all of a sudden I felt as though I had been transported back in time. I remembered my house back in India. We moved in when I was in 10th standard. I had a lot to study that year for my boards. Then after a brief break in the first term of 11th, I got back to being nerdy so that I'd be able to score well in my 12th boards. Almost every evening, it was the same routine at home. Dad used to come back by 5:30pm and Mom would be back by 6:30pm. By 7pm, we would all be seated at the dining table, ready to have dinner while watching Friends on Star World. It was always the same routine, day after day. After dinner, as we would clear our plates and walk into the kitchen, we'd hear a familiar sound from the backyard. Our cat calling out for its dinner! It had the most distinct "meow" I had ever heard. And it would go on shouting until it was fed! It was sorta like our pet. I say "sorta" because it was actually a stray which came to our backyard in the morning for breakfast, in the afternoon for lunch and for dinner in the evening. My dad and I would play with it (and its kittens, whenever there were any) every now and then in the evening. And my mom used to get constantly irritated at it every morning as it would try to enter the kitchen while she was cooking! The poor lady was often forced to keep the kitchen door shut (thereby shutting off a considerable amount of ventilation) just to keep the cat's nose out of our food! I always thought my family was complete and perfect in every way that I looked at it (*touch a huge block of wood!*). But with that cat, we were sorta like the "complete" family that they used to advertise on TV through commercials, shows, movies etc. The family with the man of the house, the lady of the house, the kid and of course, the pet (either a dog or a cat). I loved every moment and I miss those days. Now my cat is no longer alive. She died after I came to NUS. No, it wasn't because she missed me. She was just growing old :(

All these memories! Every one of them! In a fraction of a second! Triggered by a faint "meow" from a stray cat! Its mind blowing what the human brain can do!

This is not the first time it happened. Its happened loads of times for various senses of body. There was once when a particular smell in the bus (a few days back) reminded me of a camping trip in school, when I was in 4th grade. It reminded me of the sandwiches that mom had packed for my train journey. They were in a zip-lock pouch. I couldnt manage to eat all of them. So I kept the rest in my bag. And my bag got squished around during all those days of trekking, hiking and every other "campy" thing that one might do. At the end of the 5 day trip, I brought back a pouch containing the soggy remanants of my sandwich in my bag only to be met with disgusted (yet highly amused) expressions from my parents. I will never forget the smell. It wasn't exactly stinky or something... it was some average smell... I dont know how to describe it... it wasnt fragrant and it wasn't stinky. It was somewhere in the middle. Go figure! :P

These are just 2 examples. There have been so many instances all my life! Is it possible that deja vu is nothing but a situation that is familiar because something similar actually happened in your past but you just can't remember when or what it was, so your brain modifies the memory (that you couldnt pull out) into what we call "deja vu"? Complicated explanation eh? yeah I know, I think way too much! What the heck, I was able to write such a long post just by a cat's meow!! I rest my case :P

Did I mention that I am just amazed by the number of memories one can pull out in a fraction of a second, triggered by a familiar smell, sight, touch or sound? :P :) :D


Confused Soul said...

Tell me about it!! Almost every thing I smell [no, not erasers] reminds of something else.. This has happened so many times.. I would smell something and tell mom - "Ma yeh calcutta ka smell hai".. and she would go like what is calcutta ka smell?? Haha.. actually the apartment in which my family lives in calcutta, it has a distinct smell near the lift.. and the same smell everytime I go there..
And I get remninded of it when I smell something similar.. Not only this, when I smell a perfume that I had used excessively in some trip, it brings back memories of the fun times of the trip..
People who haven't experienced it will definitely find this weird - your post and this comment! Hey, we just found point number seven for our previous post!

Clueless said...

Oh, you're not the only one who's experienced this, trust me. A whole load of memories can get triggered off by a single smell or sound - what amazes me is that we have memories worth 19-odd years stored away in some corner of the brain, brought to attention by a seemingly inconspicuous and random event! Deja vu is a fantastic thing - somebody should do a paper on it ;)