Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Forgetting- A Disease?

‘Forgive & Forget’ goes the old saying. But people affected by your forgetfulness are not willing to forgive you. Forgetfulness is a disease which every human being experiences in his / her life time. The disease generally is expected to attack people in their old age. But these days, even small kids complain of forgetfulness – not just what they have read for the exams but even the simple instructions that their parents give them.

The most common loss of memory relates to birthdays and wedding anniversaries. How many times you are waiting for a call from your son, daughter or spouse wishing you a happy birthday or anniversary but the call never comes or the gift never arrives! You feel so miserable. Shamelessly you call the person yourself and try to give enough hints but still the near or dear one does not respond – making you even more miserable!

There are people who believe in taking the`bull by the horns` and tell the person concerned about the important date and demand a gift! My wife has taken an interesting route to solve the problem. She buys the gift that she thinks she deserves for her birthday / wedding anniversary and tactfully presents the bill to me on the D day – knowing pretty well that I will not reject it. Clever, don’t you agree?

The following kind of forgetfulness causes you embarrassment on a day to day basis: You ring up a no. but forget what no. you dialed. And hesitantly ask the person who picks up the phone ` Sorry, What no.is this?`. Often the response would be furious: ` you dialed the no., you should know`. And the phone is disconnected. The most frequent embarrassment I face is when I ring up some body and say `Sorry Ganesh, I forgot what I called you for. Will call again when I remember!`. The embarrassment is greater when I forget the name of a friend with whom I am having a serious conversation and suddenly I am expected to introduce him to another friend who joins the conversation , whose name also I have forgotten. At such moments I just wish I could vanish in thin air!

And there are instances of forgetfulness which are ridiculous:- Like searching for your spectacles all over the house when it is safely tucked up on your forehead! Or religiously prepare a check list of things that you want to buy but forget to take it with you when you go for shopping. The most common form of forgetfulness is when you keep something safely in a place and forget where you kept it when you need it urgently. Oh1 The list is endless!

Sometimes your forgetfulness can create a havoc or lead to a major or minor crisis in your life!

I want to share with you an incident from my life 25 years ago – when I was panic stricken because of a temporary memory loss!

I had gone to Gorakhpur in Eastern UP for a visit to make a surprise check on an audio visual campaign for a tyre company which was to start the following day in a nearby village. Since I had checked into the hotel early and my evening was free, I decided to see the evening show of the movie ‘Ardh Sathya’ featuring actor Ompuri ,in a cinema hall - a few kms away from the hotel. I took a cycle rickshaw with just enough cash required for the evening outing.

The movie started and as I was beginning to get engrossed in the movie, suddenly I realised that I could not remember the name of the hotel where I had checked in nor the address of the hotel. In spite of scratching my brain hard, I just could not recall the name.

I started imagining the worst- lost on the streets of Gorakhpur, running from street to street to locate the hotel late into the night, sleeping on the footpath. With poor telecom facilities prevailing then ( no mobiles for instant connectivity ), the idea of checking with my colleague back in Chennai, at that hour, did not seem practical. I did not know any other soul in the town and even the address of the local dealer was safe in my brief case, in the hotel. It was one of the worst 60 minutes I spent in my life before the intermission came.

As I moved out of the auditorium to get a cup of tea in the makeshift restaurant inside the cinema hall, I suddenly saw the familiar face of the supervisor of the AV van operator whose team had also come to watch the movie in the same theatre. Without wasting any time on formalities I asked the guy whether he remembered the name of the hotel where I have checked in. He gave me a funny look and told me that the team was supposed to report to me next morning at Hotel Bambino on so & so street, where I was supposed to be staying.

I thanked him profusely and sheepishly told him about my temporary amnesia and we all had a hearty laugh. Needless to say that I watched the rest of the movie with total peace of mind.

The offshoot of that experience is the recurring dream I have - of getting lost in a strange place without cash, without contacts and walking around in my underpants while everybody is staring at me! This is a nightmare I am trying to forget – but it doesn’t seem to leave me even after 25 years!!

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