Monday, August 20, 2007

Of Goldfishes, Cats and Memories

“At the end of the day, it is just less bad than you thought.”

Do you remember the old presumption that goldfishes have split-second memories? Well, it appears that that theory is incorrect. According to the all omniscicient Wikipedia, a research study shows "that goldfish have a memory-span of at least three months and can distinguish between different shapes, colours and sounds." Moreover, the study proves that goldfishes actually remember and recognize their owner's voice and learn to associate food to these humans which normally provide them their nourishment and thus behave in a sort of "begging" manner every time the owners come in proximity. Amazing, huh? Who would have thought that a bubblehead goldfish might have the same behaviorial characteristics akin to our beloved canine friends.

But guess what, if goldfishes apparently have a relatively long-term memory, which animal then has an amnesia-plagued life? You would never have guessed this, but it is our domesticated tabby friend, the cat.

Just recently, a "new study has measured just low long cats can remember certain kinds of information—10 minutes. " So for mere 10 minutes they could retain the memory of what they are doing but beyond that they forget. So if you hit/feed your cat right this moment, chances are, 10 minutes after, you can hit/feed it again and it wont have previous knowledge of your brutality/genorosity.

I wish I were forgetful. So I deliberately erase memories of past hurt, petty crimes and missteps that make me infallibly human. I wish I could undo certain events to make my life look more appealing, prettier and more engaging. I wish I could repaint the canvas and make it look more like a beautiful Renoir and not a dark van Gogh that it is. But memories are tricky by nature, the more you force yourself to forget, the more you actually remember. Like the time I wanted to forget what's-his-face home phone number so I won't feel the urge to suddenly give him a ring in one of my rather desperate moments. So everyday I try to forget, so much so that I could breathe his number in my dreams. Remember the famous line from Michael Ondaatje's lyrical novel that was also released as an Academy award-winning film, "The English Patient", (I read the book and watched the movie) the lead guy uttured, "I will forget about you everyday." Subliminally, what he was saying was that " I will always remember, I will never forget, I will always love you." Oh, for me that was the clincher, the line that made me cry buckets and rivers of tears. In that movie, this dramatic scene was punctuated by a comical relief when the girl inappropriately knocked herself in the head as she was saying her goodbye. I just didn't know what to make of the scene, I was crying and laughing at the same time.

Sometimes, life is just like that. You want to have a picture-perfect Kodak moment but it gives you something else, something regrettably unforgettable. So in the heat of the moment, you yearn to escape from the magnitude of your perceived idiosyncrasy and to forget it all, wash it away from your living memory. But you just can't. You remember. And after some time has passed, you realize it wasn't as bad as you first thought it was. So you laugh at your old silly self and wish to do it all over again ---to relive the moment you actually wanted to forget.

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