Saturday, August 31, 2013

Nostalgia nostalgia

I can remember the anticipation and  joy at the  sight of the greasy brown paper bag or the newsprint that held the  supper which my late dad had brought home around 10 p.m. I recall that  the food tasted authentic and  delicious then. Could it be just the flavour of the rice noodles fried with lard and soya sauce or that it was wrapped in banana leaves that added the aromatic flavour to the dish or the reminder of simple joy ? The slightly charred broad rice noodles fried with prawns and vegetables topped with gravy sauce and the char seow pao ( meat buns)  that had its grease soaking through the brown paper bag were such delightful treats which were sometimes brought home by my dad when he came home late in the evenings. My taste buds and food preferences have evolved but the memory remains.

The Mansion restaurant, Penang
A certain mood, a certain scene, smell or flavour , a certain weather and a  certain style can trigger off certain memories of the past and remind you of a different  lifetime and bring about the nostalgic feelings.

There are always ties that bind us, some are more transient than others. While there are ties that we will never want to unravel from and only hope to strengthen them while there are others that wither through passage of time. There are some ties that have good days and bad days as they take efforts and they will remain a constant tug of war.

School friends lose touch with one another as life gets busy and only to catch up again after two or three decades. It is interesting to see how everyone has gone on with their individual lives and some of the things that happened to friends can be awesome. But during such get together, we can never recreate the idealism, the innocence and naivety we all might have had possessed at one time of our youth, yet there is a certain synergy when school friends get together, we hope to reinforce the link and share the memories we each had about the time we were in the same classroom attending the same lessons for several years. We all share the sense of nostalgia and we do not want to let go of the past that forms the present.  But how often we find  ourselves remembering things differently from everyone else. It is not that our memories are distorted but because we each had formed our own memories or perceptions about things that had happened. Even if some people might have heightened ability to remember events that had taken place months or years earlier, over time, our memories about things do change because of changes that take place in our perceptions of things or when we deconstruct the past events, we have become selective and we remember certain incidents, people and events and forgetting the others. At times, our understanding of what actually had happened might have even been totally inaccurate in the first place, we end up remembering the versions that are far from truth.

The Jigsaw Maker written by Adrienne Dines is a story about a middle aged woman who runs a gift shop in a small village called Rathshannan. One day, a  photographer approached her in her gift shop to sell his innovative idea of making wooden jigsaw puzzles which contained images  taken by him of some of the places in town; he proposed that they could collaborate in making these jigsaw puzzles in that he would provide the images and she would provide some memories of the events from the past so as to give a background history to these places. One of the photographs was taken of the national school building  and the mystery man invited her to write about the events  from a certain year,1969 , hence invoking her journey to the past. As she recalled things that happened then, she realized that too many pieces were missing and as truth was unraveled , she realized that for close to four decades she had carried with her an unspoken guilt for a tragedy that had not happened the way she had imagined it.  An  interesting story.

When we look at our photographs, we remember things some happy some not so happy but whether they are good times or bad times , we have come through those moments and become who we are.