Memory is a funny thing. What the mind wants to retain (like formulae and dates), the subconscious mind rejects. The latter has a mind of its own (pun intended) and retains what it wants. I am accused of having ‘selective memory’ by you know who. But it is not me but my subconscious mind that does the selection.
The husband remembers details about his childhood and the events of his Service life remarkably well. . I do not dispute the veracity of those memories. But, he forgets that the same may be true of me too. Whenever my readers compliment me on my capacity to remember the early (and recent) details of my life, he pooh-poohs it saying that it is all made up and that actually I suffer from faulty memory (Do I see any green eye glinting ?!) I do agree that, with age, a little bit of absentmindedness might have crept in. But then, it happens to everyone.
So, in order to aid my memory in mundane things, I make it a point to jot down things or make a list of them. There was a time when I used to pack my husband’s suitcase going strictly by the standard list including blades, story books, whenever he had to go on temporary duty to nearby Air force units. But, the disadvantage of this list making is, I do not remember a single thing outside it, once I make the list.
Military training commends doing things by habit. That way, nothing is missed due to chance. But, the philosopher in whose school I used to serve; used to tell us, “Don’t become a creature of habit. By following a habit blindly, you will descend into the morass of mental stagnation. If you have done a thing from right, try to do it from the left next time. This keeps the mind conscious and alert.” But then who remembers what one did the previous time – right or left!
Once I tried to do the “Mnemonics” way. Psychology says, “Association is the peg on which memory is hung.” While doing the B.Ed. course, I had to remember the duties of a head master. What comes naturally later in service becomes a chore for a student when it is part of a syllabus. I think they were Planning, Guidance, Training and Research/Redress. I served under a lecherous headmaster, a M.A., B.Ed, while doing my practice teaching. So, I thought I would remember the duties as Post Graduate Trained Rascal for my examination. But when I was actually confronted with the question in the examination hall, I just could not remember what P, G, T and R stood for. The words, ‘post…..’ and the leering face of the headmaster kept coming in front of me!
But then, memories can be of short or long duration. Once I was asked to substitute for a 10th Standard teacher. As I walked in, I could see the uppity look on students’ faces, probably thinking, “What can this 8th standard teacher teach us”. I asked all the 30 students to give their name one by one. After they were done, I repeated all the names in the same order. They were amazed. My prestige shot up by notches. Afterward, it was easy to teach them. But, if only they had asked me outside later, I wouldn’t have been able to repeat my feat!