Saturday, September 01, 2007

Lost Memories

Like there are scientific explanations for why frightening and traumatic memories linger on for a long time, there must be others to account for the gouging of parts of memory until your recollection of the past is like a sieve. Most of the bad parts have been blanked out but along its periphery good memories have gone too.

My mother, J and I lived in the same house with R in the last and possibly the most painful months of my marriage. Between changing her diapers, feeding and bathing her I planned the logistics of our escape from hell. The emotional abuse was escalating rapidly to the point where I called the women's shelter for help.

A volunteer would check on me almost every other day to make sure we were doing alright and were on track to leave as soon as J's doctor deemed it safe for her to take the flight to India. Former co-workers were helping me in any way they could without drawing R's attention. Those were very frightening and stressful times.

Yet on the surface everything was normal, business as usual. Though my heart and soul were long departed from our marriage, I was still acting the part of a wife. I drew the line at sharing the conjugal bed because my body recoiled in horror at the thought of sleeping with a man who I felt absolutely no love for and feared could physically hurt me.

Recent childbirth was my "official" excuse and with every passing day it was getting harder to justify. J's pediatrician had given me a long list of shots she would need to take before she left the country. I begged him to reconsider some of them telling him I was taking her to urban India and not to the Amazonian rain-forest. He finally caved in. I begged J's forgiveness for putting her through so much pain so early in life. The shots were the easiest part. I promised I would make it right someday.

It is nearly six years, since the day we came home to Kolkata. Today, my recollection of the many fearful events leading up to my leaving R with the then newly born J is patchy at best. My mother seems to recall things with far greater clarity than she would like. Whereas the traumatic events of that time have transitioned to her long term memory, they seemed to have burnt my neurological circuitry. I am left with abrupt jumps from one time to another with entire sections missing in between.

I don't remember the day to day ordeal of living with R pretending all was well but I don't remember the many details of J's first few months either. The first time I gave her her bath, clipped her nails or combed her hair. What was she wearing the day I first took her out on her stroller. The exact sounds she made when she gurgled and cooed. I wrote down a lot of things as they happened because I was too preoccupied and stressed to fully savor my new motherhood. Our survival depended on my ability to plan and execute the escape flawlessly.

As I read back today, I can't seem to recall the moments in full-color vividness as I want to. I would gladly remember every last bad memory if it could give back to me the infinitely precious memories of J that I have lost forever. I wish Norepinephrine had done its thing for me too.


Tej said...

You are an amazing writer... I sincerely thank you for sharing your wisdom and your world.

Anonymous said...

Reading your blog has rewound my own lacerating past ( and present). I am not economically independent to walk out.The most unkindest cut being my so called "husband" has certificates from qualified doctors claiming I am a mental patient, insane blahblah. Worse I am an Indian citizen.Everytime I expressed my desire for separation, he called the police and put me in a third rate mental hospital shackled to bed with ECT.Thank God, you are on your own. About the shots given to your daughter J I suggest you give her Thuja 30(homeopathy) pellets for a week ,twice a day. That negates the ill effects of any type of vaccination.

ggop said...

I'm so glad you wrote everything down...these posts of you sharing a cold attic with those you considered friends, your reminiscing about the early days when J was born are some of the reasons why I keep coming back to this place.