Do we forget our memories, if we have no one to tell them to?

‘Life is strange… I think we forget things if we have no one to tell them to…’

(The Lunchbox)

A Failed Memory by David Szauder

A Failed Memory by David Szauder

After months of waiting and reading about The Lunchbox (Ritesh Batra), I was lucky enough to watch it last year in a local art house cinema.  It turned out to be a beautiful meditation about love, longing and loneliness that ended up leaving me close to tears.  I felt that Irrfan Khan (Saajan Fernandes in the film) had once again stolen the show with his naturalistic performance, breathtaking screen presence, and the sheer intensity of his eyes. Yes, I do have a major man crush on him.

But truth be told, most of the praise for this masterpiece should go to Ritesh Batra – the writer and director.  In June this year, when I decided to read the screenplay, I ended up teary eyed once again. I realised then, that it was the dialogues of the film that were actually so powerful. They appeared to be simple and minimalist, but contained so much within them. 

Of course, in the film, the delivery of the same dialogues was heightened when punctuated by silences and masterfully timed glances by the actors – but even without them, on paper alone, they were soulful and deeply contemplative. Clearly, Ritesh Batra is an old soul with a maturity and wisdom much beyond his chronological age.

Once such dialogue that really made me think about my own life was when the middle aged Saajan Fernandes was sharing his memories and all the changes that have occurred around him, with Ila (whom he is falling in love with) He ends with:

‘Life is strange… I think we forget things if we have no one to tell them to…’

This line has been haunting me since I heard it and read it.  I began to think about my own life. There was a lot I still remembered, but there was also so much that was simply vanishing. All those tiny, but precious little childhood experiences, moments of joy, glory, anger, feelings of embarrassment and so on, were now in a black hole somewhere. The worst thing is:  I couldn’t remember what I was trying to remember. Over time, these memories had become so deeply buried in my conscious that they had been suffocated and I could no longer hear their voices.

Was this all because I didn’t have the same people in my life to remind me of them? After all, my inner circle was no longer a circle. More, like a line – joined by two dots to be precise.

The thought terrified me.  It was as if my memories of the past, which made up who I was, were dying. As if I was dying. Silently, slowly, painlessly. If someday…I forgot all my memories…would that mean I was dead?

Since then, I’ve talked and shared even more than usual. Some of those trivial or private moments, which I haven’t thought about for years, or even uttered to another living soul, are being resurrected as they come up in conversations.

Perhaps, by sharing my memories with the one closest to me, they will be thought of, remembered, and live on. Perhaps, this way I may also live on, long after I have died, been buried and swallowed by the earth…