I was standing right in the middle of the room staring blankly in the general direction of the bookshelf. I don't know for how long I was standing there, trying hard to recollect why I was looking at it in the first place, until a voice from behind (not an apparition, just a regular human) thundered, how long I was planning on spinning the windmills of lost thought. There was no denying that I simply forgot why I walked into the room, leave alone, remembering what I planned to do with the bookshelf. Ah, that old mate, memory, one that had been steadfastly loyal through the majority of my productive life, has called in with a demand for casual leave which it planned to use during for the rest of my life at intermittent intervals. Its argument - the vacation was long overdue (and thoroughly deserved, I might add). Memory was the last link that tied my redolent past to my routine present, and that was precisely the reason why I didn't want to let it go, for, I wanted to remember how I felt about the same things, through the different (st)ages of my life. Over the past few decades, I knew I abused my memory like a red-headed step-child, making it remember everything from the most extra-ordinary down to outright obscure and unnecessary. What kind of acid in a car battery? Who holds the world record in men's Pole Vault jumping? Who tossed the first stone into the sea to build the "Rama Setu" in Ramayana (and its corollary, and why?)? What is the architecture of Chip 8255? Thanks to my down and (almost) out memory, I reshuffled the little cranial space constantly, over all these years, to accommodate all sorts of crap. No wonder, the gray cells have regrouped and declared mutiny. (In case you are wondering the answers to the above, 1. diluted sulfuric acid 2. Sergei Bubka (Russia) 3. Neela (he had a curse like boon from his mother during his childhood, that anything he threw in water floated and never sunk, fed up with his childhood monkey pranks of throwing all his household items into water). And as far as the last one is concerned, send me a personal email, and I'll be glad to show off). Had my memory been a human being, who took all this abuse over all this time, either of the things would had certainly happened - either it would had shot itself down, or it would had turn the barrerls against me. Talk about a disgruntled worker.
Though I understood and patiently heard all my memory's grievances, I was in no mood to let go of my best worker. After all, its existence depended on my welfare, and my welfare, in turn, depended on its ability to summon facts and artifacts, at speed unimaginable. If I lent it a sympathetic ear and a crying shoulder and allowed it take off at regular intervals, I cannot even begin to think of the ramifications of missing dates like female form's birthdays, the boss' anniversary, and list of my debtors and creditors, and other trivia and minutiae, that I had been carefully/carelessly using to desperately stand out in a group. Well, sorry to say Mr. Memory, the one upstairs had signed a bond of indentured labor, when handing you over to my constitutional custody, and however much I empathize with your hiring and working conditions, all that I can say is, I don't make the rules, I only play by them. And that was the time, the battle lines were drawn in the sand between the revolting memory and my oppressive mind. Sometimes, I won, and some other times, my opponent. And that moment, at the beginning of this piece, was one such. Memory - 1, Me - 0. I can say with some sort of certainty (hey, I already told you, the CPU may still be on my side, but both the hard disk and the RAM have declared a lockout. So, though the narrator's intentions are noble, the details may be little tainted), that the battle was not completely one-sided. I was doing all that I could, to counter the memory's guerrilla warfare, and part of those efforts included, and please note this irony, working it even more. You heard it right, whoever said an eye for eye, wasn't braying for blood. In fact, the only way to counter the non-cooperative tactics of the memory was to put it to work round the clock and ensure that it gets no rest whatsoever. I have had my share of strange things in nature (parents succumbing to diminutive kid's atrocious whims/wishes/behaviors, the functioning of the administrative machinery in a quasi-democratic state like India, the reason for Indian cricket team's average performances, boasting of world-record holders from top to bottom, and many such), but this one topped it all - to prevent the failure of a functioning unit, work it even more.
I was subjecting my memory to a third degree treatment (like, memorizing verses from age old texts), waterboarding techniques (memorizing raw texts from dry paragraphs of daily newspapers), and other such intrusive, interrogative procedures, commonly employed in Nazi labor camps, Russians Gulags, or even the more recent, Guantanamo Bay detention centers. Every waking moment was spent recollecting, remembering, reminiscing and ruminating, and the other times...well, incessant uninterrupted feeding. Extreme behaviors breed extreme (and sometimes, even unexpected) results. No matter what they say about the seemingly infinite storage capacity of the human mind, they failed to mention anything about the impact on the retrieval mechanisms. The mind might be willing, but the flesh became weak. The sprints and the dashes that the retrieval mechanisms ran every micro and nano second, from the storage side of the mind, to the side that had to arrange the jumble/puzzle and make sense of it, became ragged and harangued. It became amply clear that I could not continue waging a war against my own faculties, and that was when, an implicit truce was declared, and a bi-lateral agreement was reached. The terms made it clear, that I was not to subject the memory to crimes against nature, and allow it to take leave of absence, once in a little while, while the memory would keep its end of the bargain, by trying all it can, when and while on duty. It comes and goes, and when it goes, I reason that, may be, it was out on a social call, and when it comes back, I act that I was more than glad to have its company. It even gave me a pretext, an entity with seemingly no voice of its own to blame it all on - age. As age was already taking the blame for my lethargy, perpetual sleepiness, and inability to concentrate, it might as well take the blame for memory too. I was fine with the judgment. After all, when titans collide, the little guys always get trounced. My memory and I were back on talking terms again. All that I had to do.....all that I had to......hmmmm......all that I had to.......looks like I lost my train of thought. What was I trying to say again? Please hang on for a second or two... my memory would return momentarily. I might be on a little coffee break. I apologize for the inconvenience and promise to return promptly as and when, the train is back on its tracks.