Memory is a strange thing. It can even be created over time. The mind filters through the whole host of stimuli that enter during an actual event. Generally, memory is of three types, sensory memory, short-term memory and long-term memory. Sensory memory is present for each sensory channel, like visual, aural and touch. Memory can take its own form with imaginary additions and deletions. During recall of an incident, sometimes the actual incidents are colored with imagined details. Emotional factors also affect long-term memory.
There are two types of information recovery, namely, recall and recognition. While in recall, the information is reproduced from memory, in recognition, the narration of the information provides the familiarity that the information has been there earlier. The areas of the brain, particularly the hippocampus, mature from two to four years. So it is normal to recall memories of childhood from two years of age. My earliest memories of childhood are of one cloudy day. I was just over two years of age when on an overcast day, as I tagged along with my grandma, something strange happened.
I remember a faint smell. The smell was totally new and different from the familiar ones around me. I do not know if I was scared of it or not, but it gave me an uncomfortable feeling. We were on our routine walk and so the entire places including the lanes and the houses and the shops were familiar to me. I could not spot any particular shop, but I always found the streets familiar. I liked this street more so because there was a cow in one of the houses and we could move as close as our common sense allowed us. Early Memory 3
I was not the least scared by the cow because the cow appeared to know us and it stayed calm whenever we approached it. It, in fact, would even nod when it saw our silhouette from a distance. I did not know then that this was for the long yellow form of the bananas which I held tightly to my bosom. I loved to just stand there and watch the cow. It was a real treat for me. Even when the weather was harsh with the rays of the sun piercing the skin, I could stand there still watching the cow doing her routine. In the process, I even began to like the smell of the cow dung.
It was my comfort zone. But this was a new smell, which later I knew to be the one of mud mixed with water, the smell which results after a drizzle. The smell made me uncomfortable, though in what ways I do not know. I vaguely remember my grandmother asking me to give the bananas to the cow. This time I did it more as a routine. I mechanically gave the bananas to the cow which nevertheless ate with the same relish. I cannot remember if I sensed the smell of the dung there. The new smell of the mud left me worried. Everything seemed slightly different.
Even as I touched the forehead of the cow, I held my grandma tightly as though she would just like that vanish. The wind was blowing. The cow now turned its face away from our direction, maybe because of the sand being blown by the wind. My grandma shielded my eyes to prevent the sand getting into my eyes, and the sudden darkness terrified me. I began to scream uncontrollably. The wind stopped as abruptly as it had begun. The sudden wind had replaced the smell of the mud. My grandma got me a balloon. I then slowly got down, and holding my grandma’s hand, trotted along with her.
Though I cannot remember the color of the balloon, there was something drawn on it, some patterns. I would have walked only a few yards when the wind came back again, this time only with more force, and wickedly snatching my balloon, it vanished. I now was sobbing and stood fixed to the ground. My grandma then dragged me to the shop and got me another. When my grandma offered to carry it for me, I obediently agreed. Though I Early Memory 4 had another balloon, I think I was upset over the loss of the first balloon; maybe I was troubled over the fate of that balloon.
We were just yards away from our home when tiny droplets of water hit on my head and shoulders. Surprised and frightened, I clung to my grandma. I can still remember trying to climb on her desperately before she lifted me into her arms. I now felt secure and was ready to face anything as I clung to her. She told me in her own simple way that it was God who was trying to bless us. We were a religious family and even by two, I had great love for God. Once perched safely on her, I began to see the rain in a totally different perspective.
I still do not know for certain if it was the name of God or the cool feeling from a secure place that invoked this instant liking for the rain. By then, we had reached our house and the rain now lashed heavily. Once inside, we rushed to the window and my grandma slowly took my hand in hers while cupping it to collect some of the silver droplets. When it was full, she slowly let it drip from our hands. Every time I see the sky overcast with the fresh smell of the mud, it triggers off this mixed feeling of joy and confusion.
When I am preoccupied with other things, I only get sketchy images of the whole incident. Only when I am really free and see the sky overcast, do I sit to recall those memories. When I recalled this incident aloud a few days ago, my grandma corrected me in many places. The balloons, for instance, was plain, and had no patterns on them. The account of the wind blowing away my balloon too was not true. I had somehow left the thread on my own. Also, I was scared of the cow, and my grandma had to coax me to touch the forehead of the cow.
Also, grandma had some additions to it Early Memory 5 saying that as she put me down, I jumped in a puddle splashing water all over her, and in the process I even had a small fall. Call it stupidity or superstitious, even today, when it rains, I think it as God blessing me and still enjoy being drenched in rain. So, I feel I had rehearsed some part of incident as how I would have liked it, like blaming the wind for the loss of the balloon thus saving myself from the blame, and the fancy balloons of different colors must have taken the place of the plain balloon.
These changes and misinterpretations, I feel, are normal because when a person recalls something after a long period of time, with the inherent truth, there surely will be some imagined additions or deletions. Early Memory 6 REFERENCES Human Memory, [Electronic Version]Retrieved on June 8, 2007 from www. cc. gatech. edu May 2003, What your child remembers, Robin. G. , Synney’s Child, Vol 14, No4, Elctronic Version] Retrieved on June 8, 2007, from http://www. nospank. net/grille5. htm 2004, Memory, John. S. , [Electronic Version] Retrieved on June 8, 2007, from http://plato. stanford. edu