Almost no one can deny that they think about this question quite often. Whenever I think about it, my answer always comes in the form of images in my mind. All these images are like old faded photographs or rather black and white movies with sound effects that have been strung together. These images are in fact my memories.
The reel starts from the very first: The ridiculous expressions on my mother’s face while repeating my favourite bedtime story: Hansel and Gretel for the hundredth time, the soft voice of my father singing me to sleep, my very own lullaby: ‘A Fallen Star, that’s what you are…’, playing catch inside the house with my brother even though it wasn’t allowed, my first experience watching a movie in a theatre when I was three: ‘Hum Aap Ke Hain Kaun?’, the first time I got a punishment in kindergarten, or maybe the smiling old and weathered face of my Grandpa calling me his ‘Cathy Girl’…
Then there’s always a sprinkling of the in-betweeners: My very first full-fledged novel, ‘First Term at Malory Towers’ by Enid Blyton bought from the roadside for just ten bucks, bargaining at second hand book shops to buy Archies Comics with saved up pocket money and Christmas allowance on our annual family trips to Calcutta, performing in a pretty little pink frock for the parent’s day drill at school, crashing into a brick wall while learning to ride a bicycle, chatting away as I sat on my brother’s bicycle carrier as he took me to dance classes, sitting on the roof and staring at stars all evening with my family during summers, fighting the horrible darkness and struggling to get through middle school after my brother left for college, the embarrassment of having to wear braces and then specs, the way I was shaken up after the day I got hit by a vehicle in the middle of the road…
And then comes the turn of the most recent of them: My first night with my roommates away from home, the way my college looked in the sunlight on that very first day, how I discovered writing and my first blog post, daydreaming and trying not to fall asleep during lectures, spending time in the horrendous local trains I had to travel in, the grinning and silly faces of my closest friends, the fear and nervousness while walking on the dark empty streets near our apartment, talking and gossiping late into the night on the roof with my roommate, trying not to trip while wearing a sari for the farewell party, that last goodbyes near the parking lot on the last day of college, the sickening feeling in my stomach as I looked at my empty room with everything packed up in cartons…
Many of these memories come and go, many I forget but some like the feel of my mother’s fingers in my hair as I lie with my head on her lap, the way my brother holds my hand as we cross the street, the proud look on my dad’s face as he reads one of my poems, and the rush I felt after I realized that all I wanted was to write, always stay with me.
After reminiscing, I’m always brought back to the question that brought forth the nostalgia. Every one of us goes from one point to another making memories, it’s something you can’t control. Each place, each person, each book, each song, each feeling and each moment is nothing but a memory tucked away in some corner of your mind waiting for you to relive it. I realized that life is an album with beautiful memories acting as the photographs. These memories are what got us till this point and made us who we are. That’s why memories have always held a mysterious allure for us. Losing or forgetting a piece of your memory is like losing a piece of yourself. It’s like wiping clean a part of your life.
That’s why they say: Carpe Diem! It means: Seize the day! Live today as if it were your last day on earth: visit places you never thought of seeing, sing songs you thought you didn’t have the voice for and experience things you never even imagined about. Living life fully means moving forward making new and everlasting memories, while often reliving and learning from the old. So why not go out today and make memories that you can smile and laugh about tomorrow, that’ll make you feel proud someday and that’ll give you comfort and hope when you need it the most? Add a beautiful photograph to that album called life.
As if you have a choice! I already gave you a headstart, I created a new one for you just now.
We should give meaning to life, not wait for life to give us meaning.