Time is like water and memories are the eddies and whorls where moments collect and coalesce before being swept along once more in the never ending flow.
We’ve been in India for five weeks now and are half way round our circle of States and sights. Since day one in delhi it’s been a constant stream of sensory stimulation but when I think about time til now it only returns in fragments.
I can plot our path and link days spent by destinations – day one Delhi day 6 Jaipur day 10 Jodhpur and on and on – but this is like giving coordinates for the source of a stream or describing a bend in the river with angles and meters.
I could describe small scenes and moments such as the patchwork of blue tarpaulins dotted amongst green trees seen through a fogged up train window or the soft singing of the missim stirring my sleep at five in the morning but these are almost formless and float untethered in my memory.
Like measuring atoms it seems I can accurately describe a moments place or it’s passing but not both at the same time.
I can post photos made on the move. Streets full of saris, strange signs and bright vistas of monuments and museums. Or maybe isolate some sounds – an out of tune wedding band, the tea pickers gentle songs or a circus of horns and cars.
This evidence, this data, relays the time in discrete packets that can be shared and plotted on calendars and maps with hashes and tags. They are almost tangible touch points for time passed. But each image or snippet stubbornly remains separate and singular – unconnected to the next except by the order on the page.
It’s only my own memory that can string the things together. To form a narrative like cupped hands catching fall from a stream. Then overflowing and reshaping into other narratives. Some things occasionally rise up unexpected and sparkle in the light before falling back and become part of the dark again – making new memories at that moment – new ripples – each with a fragment of the light from the first.
And then it’s week six.
Sometime in the future all the parts from the present will form a whole and be easily described as the past and I shall bore all I speak to with well rehearsed anecdotes about the days in India and “this one time…”