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HONORING MY MOTHER | Frozen smiles

To borrow a first line from an old article I wrote long ago, “memories are very much like the stray cats I feed at our gate. Always waiting in ambush. And just like that, I am the old rat, always caught unaware.”

Now this might sound like the rantings of a daydream believer but like many others, we sometimes become waylaid into reminiscence in the middle of our chores. A case in point, it seems to me, there is this strange relation between cleaning up unwanted clutter in the house and then suddenly finding old photos and memorabilia you thought you have lost, of people already long gone. A means to an end maybe, I say. Because it has always been like this; you’re looking for something, your reading glasses or set of keys perhaps, and you end up finding something else and that takes away more of your time. One day, you’re cleaning your room and then you end up sitting on the floor and sorting through things you thought you have lost forever. It’s also like finding your lost USBs and opening them only to discover your treasure trove of old memories. Makes one wonder, like material things, do we misplace old memories also?

I remember quite clearly incidences like these with my mother. I would be helping her in sorting out through some old files in the family library and the next moment, we would be peering through her old high school pics we have found hidden among the ton of her old materials.

Then, as though she were meticulously sifting through a delicate time capsule, she would be enumerating the names of people in the old photos, offering some snippets about who they were and then finally singling out those who mean so much to her over the other countless faces in those faded photographs. Many a-time, we would go through the same routine and it’s ironic, here I am now, doing the same with but one exception. She has finally become one among those old pics and memories.

In hindsight, how I wish this has also happened to everyone. There’s a sense of healing in it somehow. Surely, a profound link exists between the process of letting go and rediscovery, especially when long-forgotten objects resurface to remind us of people whom we love but are now gone.

I might add a word of caution though lest we’re not careful. If we overly indulge in deep reminiscing, we might go from daydream believers to hopeless compulsive hoarders.


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