Tuesday, April 8

dont fight the red water bottles

Strange name for the post. But it better be told.

You are fighting the red water bottle. Small, cute plastic bottle in the shape of a grape, with a green cap.

I cant help it, its your deal, you wanted it, I didn’t pretend that you will fight Al Pacino, though in some perverse way I would want that too.

Well, my mind is full of them. Not the Al pacino but the red water bottles with green caps and hoards of things like that.

Ok, let me start where it all starts.

I was walking out of the washroom (LADIES, twice in my life, lost in my thoughts, I have done otherwise, and no it is not Freudian or some penis envy shit if you reach out for the wrong door, it is as natural and as -not - Freudian as it is reaching for the right one)

So I was heading out of the right door towards my desk, when I saw her.

She was short, neat, and dapper as she ought to be. She wore a black striped shirt tucked at the waist in her grey trouser. She had her hair brushed neatly and tied back in those clips that were called butterfly clips once and had changed the way women tied their hair.

I had this vague imagery in my mind, I saw her in white shirt and navy blue school uniform trying to jump over boundary wall to pluck flowers. Looking at her in a striped shirt tucked in grey trousers, you would never be able to visualize her like that. And then I saw this other little girl with her, trying to jump over with her. And that was me.

It all flooded back. Her red water bottle, like cherries with the green cap, her luscious hair which fell on her face on errands like plucking flowers and such details. What’s worse I remembered her name too.

So I ask her, “Hi are you so & so?

She “(surprise) “Yes”

And I ask her “Are you from so and so school at so & so place?

She (now very surprised) “Yes”

Her eyes took me in, the way they did always. She would first let her twinkling gaze spread fixes on you, then a pair of questioning eyes spread on your face like butter and absorb you. From end to end.

And now came the toughest part.

I groped endlessly… now how do you explain to someone - I know this is kind of weird, but that’s what it is. I don’t know what you did with your life ? I don’t know who you became. I didn’t care then, I probably don’t care now. And I know it doesn’t hurt you. Because we weren’t friends but well we did junior KG together and for some inexplicable reason I have your name etched in memory also how you looked not to mention the red cherry shaped plastic water bottle with the green cap.

By the way, what did you do with it? Have you kept it in a locker or is it just a guest in my memory ?

How do you tell someone that sort of a thing?

Well, I did. Not all of this, but did remind her that we were together at Junior KG (I wished I had looked a lot more credible.)

Or better, I wish, I didn’t remember her. Or the way she looked or how she looked at people. Or her red water bottle with green cap.

But there I was victim of my own strength. Captive of my own memory.

Reminding someone of where we had crossed paths before, because I have this over-sized memory chip for people, conversations, incidents and this under-sized memory chip for places, directions sometimes numbers.

And before I get congratulated for my chosen profession, let me assure you it’s not a congratulatory thing.

Let me give an example. I won this game in Class Vth (I don’t remember on what date) But I know we were celebrating school foundation day and we got a memory game.

We got a tray full of stuff - threads, balls, pins, rubbers, all household articles. Mundane things. Different colors.

Now I don’t remember how many of them were there but I remember to this day, 20 years later what most of the stuff in the tray and, who brought it to us (Ayesha & Tauja, both were in red houses, wore red batches and lived in Patliputra Colony, which was very close to school, and did not take the bus to go home.)

Now you get the picture.

What’s more annoying is that a memory like this - gets triggered during a training program at a serious meeting in office. I wish this would stop at the memory game, but no, once I remember Ayesha, I can do a documentary on Ayesha’s world.. Like she was the class captain in II B, she got the best citizen award, again in II B, she was in red house , again in II B, she and I were in a play together, same class, I don’t remember her Birthday, but I remember she wore an orange frock to school, with white shoes and invited us through nice handwritten notes. My note was green in color.

I also remember her sister, Simran had light blue eyes, I know I will recognize them if I see them in a crowd of thousand odd people.

I will walk up to her and say, “Hi , Are you Ayesha’s sister? We were in Class II B together.” (Also in IIIB, IV A, VA & VI C, Thankfully in this case)

And when that blue eyed girl of my memory would marvel at how little she has changed, or how did I do it I would say in a super cool, super sexy way, I am in a profession where you need to remember a lot.

This would freak her out completely.

Well, there is much much more I remember about Ayesha and also Tanuja and any person I met then and that’s annoying.

Because it surfaces right when my boss wants something done. I don’t remember it, the here and now stuff, I can’t do a thing about it, and it doesn’t challenge me or better my memory. That data my boss asked for, that he needed for this real cool presentation which would have become super cool, had I remembered to give it, would only challenge my memory 20 years later when my grandson would cry for a diaper change and tug at my shirt.

Till then it can fight the red water bottle in my mind space.