Friday, February 08, 2008

As of Now: The Absence of Memory (Part 1 of 2)

From my personal diaries: Jan 29, 2008

I am possessed by the strangest of sensations: I feel like a woman who's lost her memory. Last week, I knocked into someone who I have known like the color of my nose. I knew her – she is the sister of a close friend with whom I have seen some ups and downs of life. We've been together, I can tell. But for the life of me, I couldn't then and I cannot now recall her name. Who is she?

It's just one of those many things that are completely gone from my mind.

I don't, for instance, feel as though I was there, two weeks ago, watching wild animals in Africa. I look at the photos I took, and they give me an eerie sensation. As if I know them – but then what am I doing here? Sitting in the bleakness of Karachi, with no idea of where I have come from, and where I am going to. Do I belong to the world of animal sightings and roaming the wilderness? Do I belong here, staring at my laptop which, partly due to its uncooperative operating system, seems unfriendly and unfamiliar? Do I belong to neither a place?

Aye, that seems to be the root of my very pleasant cluelessness.

The End of Being

I only know that in the year 2007, I had reached the end of my being, as it was then. The year carried forward a series of spectacular what-shall-I-call-them? – losses – all around me. Gold turned to dust, yet I was still untouched by the death of all things that I owned, or things that owned me. I stayed put in the eye of the storm, watching its destructive wave unfurl around me.
I remember losing the least bit of interest or anxiety. I recall I had realized that nothing of my doing was going to work; and that my heart would set on immediate fire if I went in any but one direction.

And in that one direction I went. Without thought. Without plan. Thought with a degree of uncertainty and with some fear. Yet in my inner heart, with absolute certainty, I walked into the Uncertain.

I left what I called my home, and went to where my heart was going. I went to Africa.

Oh, Her African Odyssey!

There were some vague notions in my mind of what could happen during that sojourn. And with those notions was a laughter at them, for I knew nothing will be like I could design or expect. The safest was to ensure the mundane: take care of travel arrangements, buy clothes, buy a camera, buy a PDA, put them all into the rucksack I had acquired earlier only to remind myself that I am born to wander.

I took the invite of my host – and decided not to ask any questions. Who are you exactly? Where do you live? What kind of facilities will be available to me? What do I need to bring with me? What shall I do once there? Why have you invited me, by the way? What do you expect of me? What should I expect of the visit? What shall I do afterwards?

None of these questions I asked. Why should I have?

In my previous life, I had had the opportunity of examining some liars and psychopaths at close proximity – that is to say, experientially. Which is to say, they exercised their craft upon me. And I knew what they were up to, but didn't ask them a question. I always felt I need to ask myself why do things happen to me the way they do? Why, indeed, are things happening to me at all?

In an even earlier life, I have never felt that things sort of fall upon my head somehow. Good, bad, sudden, distinct, funny, absurd – I used to know what was going to happen, and took it as it was. I used to possess an instant knowledge of where I was and what to do.

When I left for Africa, that fluid life was part of my knowledge bank, but nothing I was experiencing any longer. I had vague feelings that I wanted to reclaim that past – and on the other hand the sad realization that there is no such thing as “reclaiming the past.” Many fine people have fallen into this trap and I didn't want to be like them.

I didn't want to be like anyone – for all my heroes and goals have appeared short the instant I have reached closer to them. All my definitions and dreams are pygmies. They're like too short clothes that I don't wish to be restrained by, certainly not forever.

And thus, I asked no questions about the one thing that my heart had felt so very sure of in a long time. I felt safe. I felt secure. And I honored my feeling by tainting it with no logical, reasonable doubt.

I went to Africa, all judgments and expectations suspended. I pardoned myself from the self-created necessity of always having a goal. I submitted to life as it appeared – vast, tranquil, still, and deep – on the horizons of my perceptions. I left the shore, and floated into the Sea.

To quote my Teacher, then onwards, all experiences made me feel “I knew that I knew!”

Without “doing” too much or too many varied things, I felt a vastness of experience and of being-ness just encapsulating me. I felt the past and the future of Africa in its air; but I was curious about neither. I felt the incredible diversity of human race and class, of strife and resolution. I felt unconditional love too.

Above all, I did feel the not-feeling of that certain consuming fire which had been making me sick and insane over the past few years. The painful sickness that had driven me near my physical death suddenly left me one night. I became a free woman.

It was a New Year the next morning. I woke up with an emptied heart, feeling light. Feeling as though I had no memory, only an intellectual recollection of events I had been witnessing. I could as well be talking about someone else.

Continued next.

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