The Ghost That Just Won’t Rest

Every once in a while, my past catches up with my present. Not in any grand consequential manner, just memories that rush forward as if the dam of time had burst and let them free in waves.

My strongest recollections seem to be of my pre-teen years. I often think that soon after that, certain events changed the course of my life so deeply that I literally became a different person from the one I should have been.

When I was around 12 or 13, I see myself as a geeky, shy kid – one of those who blooms into a sophisticated intellectual in story books. Having wordsmith-blood in my veins I should have known better than to trust the tales, eh? 🙂 Apparently, I wasn’t meant to do the blooming bit (:P) Instead, some very bad choices knocked me off the path and onto another one that in hindsight I wish had been barricaded to prevent me from ever venturing down it.

When I look back, I often kick myself for being so, so stupid. Or maybe I was so inclined towards the intellectual, I kinda missed the basics. At 12 I could easily discuss quasars and black holes, but I couldn’t figure out social interaction norms. Which often meant that when people bullied me, I actually thought that was their ‘popular’ way of being nice and when they were nice to me, it passed through me like water through a sieve.

It’s taken me a decade to turn around and recapture the essence of that girl. I’ve lost much of her I know, but deep inside I’m still her. I just have to figure how to reconcile her with the current me. Rub off some of the facade and allow some of the inner-geekiness to come forth. 

But every time I seek her out, I can’t help but think how different things might have been. That girl was an intense person, perhaps too intense for a 12 year old. They call it precocious, but I’ve never liked the word much. She wasn’t worldly-wise, she was just clear. She knew what she could understand and feel, but rarely analysed it in those around her.

When I step into her body again (a neat, very helpful, trick that writers can do) the first thing I notice about me is how little my environment actually affected me. I have vivid, distinct memories of certain people and events, but only when it was me reacting to them. I never registered their reactions to me. It was my world and I lived in it alone.

Perhaps it was better that way. I can’t afford to think otherwise. Sure I missed a couple of wonderful opportunities, but then I missed a lot of pain and hurt too.

Maybe that’s why I remember those years so well. They were pure in every sense. Un-tainted, un-polluted, sincere and because of all that – passionate.

Woven in every memory of those days is one of a person who may never know how much he influenced my life, and still does.  Once in a while, you make a friend who exists beyond the dimension of time and space. Not someone you necessarily keep in touch with, but someone who captures the Essence of Friendship and traps it in their personality, so that you carry forward their ideal as that of what a companion should be.

My biggest mistake may have been not realising or consciously (I’m hoping I did unconsciously) making an effort to reciprocate that offer of friendship. And maybe my bigger mistake is holding onto that regret. After all one person’s dream maybe another’s forgotten illusion.

Am I remembered as well as I remember? Is my memory simply the work of an overactive, creative mind? Or that of a desperate need to have something to hold onto from the past?

I’m not so naive as to think that the images in my head are true to the actual past anymore. I’m sure the features I imagine are softened by time. Perhaps the actual words spoken, or the glances and expressions I see in hindsight, have been tinged with a certain rosy-ness.  I don’t mind that, it’s natural for memories to be smudged over with the generous hand of Time – especially when they grow to be over a decade old.

But every once in a while, the ghost begins to restlessly fidget and I wonder once again. Did I ever manage to make an impact in anyone’s life? I‘m willing to credit my friend with the ability to positively influence my life, but my pride asks for the same favour in return.

I only ever wrote one truly inspired poem in my life. You know, the kind that requires you to grab a pencil stub and a scrap of a napkin and then sit down on the steps of a public building, while people pass you by and give you odd stares as you scribble away on available bit of the paper to get the words down before they are lost.

That poem was forced from my memories. I’ve typed it out and saved it on my hard disk, but I haven’t read it since – partly because it’s too close for comfort and partly because it makes me wonder if I ever inspired anything remotely poetic in anyone.

Chances are I’ll never know. Despite the shrinking of the world, people tend to get lost in it. And when enough time passes by, they are held at bay by the fear of rejection.

Which is perhaps why I have this friend’s telephone number, but I know I will never pick up the phone and call.

S’laams
Bint Ali
(once upon a memory a.k.a WhizKid)

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