ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Reflections and Reminiscences

Can we ever pre-empt which experiences might form a memory and which might not?

Earlier this year, after almost a decade, I happened to visit my alma mater, St Stephen’s College, Delhi University. As I strolled through those familiar lawns of the historic Viceregal Lodge which became the vice chancellor’s office in 1933, I happened to remember a winter Sunday afternoon seven years ago, when, as an undergraduate student, I sat cosily reclining against one of the old fatherly trees, and somewhat dreamily and half-intentionally etched my initials on the tree trunk with the keys of my hostel room.

Now, even after years, it was not difficult to spot the tree. My initials—S S—were still present on its bark, though now blackened and wrinkled with the wrath of time. Looking at the careless etching, I felt a strange sense of satisfaction, an abstract feeling of contentment. Why would one feel this strange contentment looking at a few meaningless scribbles on a tree bark done years ago, I wondered. Perhaps there is an inherent and unexpressed urge in us to perpetuate ourselves and our memory. We instinctively do things like engraving our names on tree barks, seeking permanence through such acts. And when we find that those engravings have survived many years, we feel we have resisted the relentless forces of time. We seem to claim an imaginary victory over our own finitude and temporality.

Wrinkled etchings of the author's initials on a tree.

Source: Author

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Updated On : 1st Sep, 2020
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