On change and memory

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What is it aboutlife that makes it so elusive and changing? And how do we accept those changes that could be least described as dramatic?

Contemplating change, it seems to be but unavoidable. On the one hand, everyone has something they are not satisfied with, somewhere they want to go, or something they want to achieve. And that, whether one wants it or not, entails change. On the other hand, it would be traumatic to be having the same experiences all over again, to be standing at the same place forever and always, and that where change comes.

Some changes are of course something we have worked on, something we have probably wanted, planned for and looked forward to achieving. There are however sides to these changes that we were not really planning or maybe just did not really think about. Maybe while planning to live abroad, we do not really plan on leaving our cherished ones behind, yet that becomes a fact; or a collateral damage; they call it. We do not really plan to exchange our world with another one. The only thing we probably care about then is this need we feel inside, to just leave, to flee an injustice that inflicted us, the scent of our past memories, a love story, as it could be anything else… maybe we wanted to achieve something, somewhere else, to challenge ourselves, or to enjoy privileges that were not within our reach where we were initially!

Or maybe, change was at work while we were not even paying attention to that; it was eating up our lives, the people around us; eating us. Maybe change started when Ba H’md, the mint and herbs seller, passed away, or maybe way before, reaching its climax when grandpa passed away too… we all want to blame it on time; ‘times have changed’ ‘time flies’, well, somehow it does and at some point, turning back becomes so painful because you know when you will knock that door, no one is going to answer and even when you decide to intrude, they are not going to show up, even if you spend your lifetime waiting. Nothing will change, or maybe, once you go out, you will not recognize the outside you see. People are not the same and neither are the buildings.

Today, my day started with pictures of the remains of my grandmother’s house, posted by a cousin. The house that was once full of life, cheerfulness, and love seemed about to falter. There was dust everywhere. The kitchen still had some utensils testifying that, once, someone lived there; that once there was love, there was life around this place. This made me very sad. A feeling I have never experienced before sprung from somewhere deep in my heart, a feeling of total impotence, and some urging questions: where does our past go? Where do the people that made it go? It sounded like I have become un-whole, that part of me had crumbled somewhere, without me realizing it. I’ll never be the same again. Time took something from me that I cannot retrieve.

Not knowing how to handle this burden, I took refuge in my only solace, this little piece of flesh, blood and nerves that harbors my past memories and sensations.  That was enough to take me back to the school holidays we would spend at my grandmother’s. It was so good that we would stay until the holidays’ last breath. That meant only one thing; that we would have to take the earliest bus in the first day of school. Lalla would wake up, make us some delicious breakfast- coffee; semolina bread and olive oil- which we would eat, regardless of how sleepy we were. There was a special sensation to those early mornings; it was still dark, you could hear dogs barking from afar and the kitchen light was so dim that now, imagining it, or seeing something similar, all the emotions from then flow all over my body. What do we have left from those who have departed? Memories, scents and heartburns!

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