“But how can one regret what, to the mind, has never existed? Even loss is an inaccurate description, for what loss is without the awareness of losing?”
― Nicole Krauss
We rely on our memory all the time, it’s one of the most magical process of our brain. Creating and erasing memory. Recently, I was watching a movie, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, it’s an interesting movie, where in one scene Patrick friend of Charlie (the protagonist), raise a toast for him saying “He’s a wallflower. You see things. You keep quiet about them. And you understand.” Beautiful and meaningful. But what struck me the most is Charlie’s blackout moments. There are few times when he faints and everything blacks out. So today my post is about BLACKOUTS.
I was in second grade, giving my Hindi language examination, I was feeling bit feverish and tired, as I have just returned from grandmother’s funeral. I stood up to handover my paper to my invigilator, I walked up to her, and as I forwarded my paper towards my teacher, I felt blurry, I saw two of her and suddenly everything starting revolving around me and whop I fainted. I think it took me 2-3 minutes to get back my consciousness, when I opened my eyes and looked around, I saw so many worried faces around me. I was offered a glass of water by someone and the peon was called up, to drop me home. I generally use to walk down, with my friends, but that day no one wanted to take a risk, neither me nor them, after all we were just bunch of seven-year old’s.
Walking back home was different, somewhere inside my heart, I felt happy, happy that I experienced something that elderly people talk about. Fainting, seeing everything in three sixty degree and then it turns black all around and you are no more in the world. That left a weird kind of impression on my mind regarding this fuzzy experience.
For next few years it never came back, but then I turned twelve, it started. It recurred in most bizarre ways. The frequency of my fainting on school grounds during my assembly hour was so high, that my friends use to keep opening their eyes to watch me and my teachers generally use to stand by my side.
Out of these numerous fainting incidents in assembly hall, there was one which stands out, we were in tenth standard and our school has just upgraded our Friday uniform. Indian school generally divide school students into four houses(groups) just like Hogwarts. We too have four houses, and our new uniform was wearing your house representing color t-shirt with white bottoms. My house t-shirt was red color, that was our first day of wearing that new uniform. My mom pleated my hair in two ponies and when I entered my class, one of my classmate remarked that I rather look cute in the new dress and hairstyle. I smiled and thanked him for the compliment. The school bell rang and we all walked down, towards the school ground.
I was standing in my assembly line thinking about my first lecture, suddenly I started feeling severe pain in my legs. I felt sweaty and hot and before I could realize what was happening to me, I fainted. The story of my getting fainted is too obvious but it’s about the drama that unfolded while I was unconscious. Two of my friends between whom I was standing, tried to help, but then they couldn’t lift me up. Then two more girls joined them, still they couldn’t pick me up. They shouted for help from our teachers, one amongst them, then came running and held me up in her arms like a baby and took me to the sick room.
No one could understand why four healthy girls couldn’t pick up, one underweight girl. This was sort of quite weird. My friends stated that they felt as if they were lifting an iron statue of 100 kg 😀 But my stories of these blackouts doesn’t end here, it continues till the summer of 2011.
I was not feeling well since morning but I couldn’t skip going to college as it was our final semester examination day. My test went fine, we were almost near our girls hostel. Suddenly I felt severe pain in my legs and I sat on the ground, my friend held me in her arms and I hid my face in her laps, she asked me to move a bit in shade but I couldn’t, there was no power in me to oblige. My another friend came from behind and held my hand, they shouted for others to help. This all was happening in front of Head of Mechanical Department professor’s house. His wife saw us and asked us to move me inside their house, both of my friends held me form either sides, I walked but as soon as I entered inside the room, I collapsed. When my consciousness returned, the professor ‘s son was holding a glass of electrode for me. I took the glass from him, gulped it down and again laid my head in my friends lap. The college van was called, to take me back to the hostel. The funny part of the incident is when we returned back to hostel, and I was lying down on my bed and the two friends of mine were telling me what happened when I passed out, I realized that the other two friends of ours were missing from the whole scene while they were just few minutes ahead of us, when we left the college premises. After sometime the two of them returned and we asked them about their whereabouts. Innocently one of them said, we went to canteen and were ordering momos, when some one told us that you have collapsed, we came to professor’s house and no body let us in, so we went back to canteen to have momos and lassi( sweet yoghurt drink).
Me and my other friends couldn’t stop laughing on this answer, when one of your friend is collapsing instead of worrying about her, you continued enjoying your meal 😀
Mine were simple fainting blackouts of few seconds to a minute or two. But their are more serious forms of Black Outs, especially with people suffering from severe disease or with addicts. There are instances where people totally forget a day or night from their life under the influence of drugs. Like in the book “The Girl in the Train”, the protagonist Rachel’s memory is manipulated by her husband. She is an alcoholic and she often suffers from blackout, and her husband takes advantage of this and starts manipulating her memory and she starts believing his manipulated version and makes it, her memory. I think when this starts happening, it time for you to re-evaluate yourself and get some external help. You need to save yourself, from such dangerous situations.
With all these years of experience in fainting 😉 I found something very fascinating about these blackouts, for few seconds or minutes, there is no memory created of what happens in your life. It seems like you lag by those few seconds of memory from the people around you. And now you rely on other people’s version instead of your own. Your perception of those few seconds is not your own but a borrowed one. As Mark Lawrence says in King of Thorns
“Memory is all we are. Moments and feelings, captured in amber, strung on filaments of reason. Take a man’s memories and you take all of him.”
When I think of blackouts, I think of how we cling to our memories. It’s like as if, few frames went missing from a storyboard. And now the story is there but you feel something is a miss. Or picture it this way, you are playing jigsaws and making scene from Aladdin flying on a carpet with Jasmine and you can’t find the piece of carpet’s end and beginning of jasmine face. How inapt and half that puzzle will look.
On other hand, you may think that if you don’t have the memory of it, how will you think that it’s a miss. To miss something, that something need to be there in your cache. If cache is blank, how long you may try to buffer it, it will return a blank page. Sometimes, some people are happy about blackout moments, as it erases some unpleasant moments from their life. Its like on which side you are, the one where the moment was part of a crucial point in your life or where the moment was like a thorn in the flesh. Like Juan Rulfo said “Nothing can last forever. There isn’t any memory, no matter how intense, that doesn’t fade out at last.”
After all, To Each His Own.