Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Winding Back

A few days ago J asked me what games I played when I was her age. Answering her question took me back to a place in time that I am have grown so unfamiliar with that I often stumbled and even lost my way. I started to describe to her how I spent afternoons of my school holidays in the shade of a young papaya tree making things with clay collected from place where the tap in the garden leaked making it all slushy and muddy. 

Sometimes, I would stack playing cards all afternoon in elaborate formations and my back ached with the effort. In the evenings my friends and I would race through the paddy field behind my house - often we had no destination and ran for the sheer pleasure of it. I stated the basic facts accurately enough but my description of things lacked something - liveliness perhaps. I could sense that I was not being able to express to J how those days had really been, how I had truly felt and who I was then.

Time blurs memories until you no longer feel sure of your unquestioned ownership of them. Rainer Maria Rilke has a beautiful poem titled Childhood that describes this feeling perfectly :
And became as lonely as a sheperd
and as overburdened by vast distances,
and summoned and stirred as from far away,
and slowly, like a long new thread,
introduced into that picture-sequence
where now having to go on bewilders us. 

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