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There is a look of alarm and concern on the Lord and Master’s (L & M) face each time it happens. Misplaced, is my private opinion. I mean let’s face it; people do forget a few things now and then. Who doesn’t by the way?? I can tell you a thing or two about the L & M himself. Like the times he hurries the family to get ready with the refrain ‘its getting late’ and then when they are all ready in their Sunday best and waiting he decides it is time for him to go play a game of Hunt the Keys. It has been happening with so much regularity.

Do you find me looking alarmed in these instances?? Mildly annoyed perhaps, even bored. I might roll my eyes unobtrusively at times as I prepare to assist him or may even go to the extent of muttering ‘Oh no not again!’ (to myself) stifling that urge to yell, “Why couldn’t you have left it where it belonged in the first place!!” Of alarm you will not find a trace on my face. And yet, what does L & M do when he finds me being forgetful on those odd (err… also ‘even’) occasions?? He looks at me with consternation writ large on his face as if some grave symptom of a terminal illness has manifested itself and I am in dire need of immediate medical attention. I tell you!!

Just because I forget a few things now and then, err…maybe now then and some more times, it is not as if it is the end of the world. It is true that I come once too often skipping merrily along like the lamb in spring time, or however close to a merrily skipping lamb in spring time someone as far removed from it in looks can resemble (it’s the spirit that matters in case you didn’t already know that), to where the L & M is and meeting his enquiring look stare back blankly at him for the life of me unable to recall what it was that had me start off on that hop and skip like a lamb jaunt from the kitchen to the sitting room. (Phew, was that sentence long??) This has happened once too often and sigh seems to bother the L & M.

“Alzheimer’s!” he says in a perturbed voice and shaking his head adds. “An early onset…”

“What rubbish!” I reply, dismissing his misgivings.

It is true that this business of forgetting things is intruding into my life and causing me problems. Like the times when I wait politely for whoever it is who is speaking to have their say before I intrude. Good manners and all you know, after all I am a well-bred lady. No butting in rudely when someone is on the floor. So I wait patiently and seizing the opportunity when it presents itself, open my mouth to scatter those pearls and …. Well, that’s it.

I stand there with my jaws unhinged, the gaping mouth an open invitation to any passing fly, trying my best to recall what form of pearls (pink, white, blue rice, conch, melo, abalone, button, coin, blister, faceted, natural, cultured… ahh well, I guess you get the gist) I had wanted to scatter. No go. I finally remember to pull up my seemingly unhinged jaw, closing my mouth shut and in the bargain terribly disappointing the fly who having finally made up its mind, was preparing to take the plunge into its cavernous insides in search of new adventures.

It is all the more embarrassing when you forget things right in the middle of a conversation, especially when with strangers or acquaintances. While at home, I simply have to ask the Martians for whom I keep house, imperiously and a little impatiently, “What was I saying??” and I being their ..ahem.. Queen and all that, they would oblige by refreshing my memory. Obviously I cannot do this with strangers for Forgetfulness that Great Leveler is not selective and comes to me with scant disregard for where I am or for that matter with whom I am conversing. Any time any place is its motto, putting me in a quandary. I try to cover it up by being a listener at gatherings but that’s no good either. My mind wanders off (there are zillion things to think about!) and I am suddenly brought to earth by hearing someone say,

“…is that not so Mrs. Mohan??”

“Err…Mrs. Mohan??”

Mrs. Mohan (that’s me for the newbies in case you didn’t know) is now red in face.

“Sorry, I was just thinking of something else. What was it again??”

I remember the time I was talking to this army doctor while at Udhampur. I was meeting her for the first time. Smooth-sailing would be the way you’d have described our conversation till I suddenly went blank and not an inkling of what I had been talking about! Just like that, right in the middle of what I was saying too. Most embarrassing I tell you. There was nothing I could do except ask the lady,

“Sorry what was I saying just now??”

She immediately put me at my ease, admitting it happened to her too and helpfully guided me back to the broken train of thought. I wouldn’t be surprised to know that from then on her interest in me turned from that of a mere acquaintance to that of a prospective patient of hers.

Though I admit these things are really awkward, I still feel there is no cause for the overt concern displayed by the L & M and his cries of ‘Alzhiemers!!’ whenever it happens. I have a reason for saying so.

Let me tell you about my senior son. While still a child when I sent him off to get something or other for me from the next room, he would trot away obediently. A few seconds or minutes later he would reappear minus whatever it was he was asked to get.

“Where is A, B C or D I asked to get you??” I ask him.

He would suddenly start and remembering, run off to fetch it. This happened so often that I mentioned it to a cousin of mine.

“He seems to live in a dream world.” I lamented.

She chuckled amusedly and said,

“You were exactly the same, always lost in thought, in a world of your own, a dreamer!!”

Oh aaahh ummm… had I been so now?? Ah well, I thought, better leave it at that and never mention it again. One cannot say what more contributions would be made by eager beavers who knew you in your childhood. That’s when my Uncle who had been listening interrupted us.

“Don’t be deceived by those who appear dreamers and are forgetful. Their minds work faster. Their thoughts jump from one to the next via connecting thoughts so speedily that the initial thoughts are lost. The world unfortunately concludes that they are forgetful!! No way!

Awww… geeee

What I would like to do right about here is write, ‘I rest my case’ and exit gracefully. But no, let me add a bit more.

After my Uncle’s little speech, I sat up straighter, the desire to disappear into the woodwork suddenly gone. I looked at my ‘forgetful’ son, proud that he was forgetful and that he took after me. What did I know then that I would pull out my hair in despair in the years to come finding Amul butter all soft and gooey left in his mobike for over a week, letters given to be posted forgotten behind cupboards and underneath tables in his room, that whenever I asked him to get anything on the way home, his reply ‘Yes Ma’ was all that I could expect in lieu of that one kilo of onion or bread or milk I needed him to get….. Ahhh, that’s all because his brain is too active and his thoughts are faster than the ordinary!! And oh yeah he is like me!! So never mind.

As for the L & M, I never let him forget after that what ‘forgetfulness’ is all about. But strangely enough, he still forgets that part of it and has to be reminded now and then. One day I asked him,

“Do you know Chacha Chaudhary??”

He is a character from a comic book series (from the 70s??) I have seen my children reading. Chacha Chaudhary is a little turbaned man with his inseparable walking stick, who fights evil doers with his shrewdness and presence of mind assisted ably by his friend Sabu who is from Jupiter and is the brawn of the duo. It says in the comic book that Chacha Chaudhary’s brain is sharper than a needle and faster than a super computer. Whenever the L & M tends to go ‘Alzheimer’s!’ on me, pooh-poohing his apprehensions I tell him,

“That’s only because, my brain works faster than even Chacha Chaudhary’s.”

So there!!