Sunday, May 1, 2016

At the interchange

Everyone of us is a concoction of our nature and nurture that comprise of  all the things we encounter and experience, past and present. How we respond and remember things are a matter of  our perceptions which are very much influenced by our own beliefs and education. We think in the way we choose to think and our thoughts are shaped by what we have come to believe. Education is our life  long vocation. If you think about it , there are a lot of things that are at odds with logic. I thus believe that we must not stop educating ourselves even if we might not find the real explanations nor the true reasons for everything that  has happened or is happening because life is multi-faceted. I also believe that everything is connected and nothing happens in isolation.

In The Forgetting Time written by Sharon Guskin, Noah Zimmerman is conceived after a one-night stand with a man whom Janie meets when she is on vacation in Trinidad as  she turns thirty-nine. Noah is Janie’s world and it breaks her heart when he has nightmares and sometimes pushes her away and asks for his real mother when Janie is his mother. Janie is called into Noah’s  pre-school where she is told that she needs  to seek professional help for her son. Noah is beyond his age as he speaks about scoring a baseball game, Harry Potter and  guns , things that a four year old would not possess any knowledge of  particularly when Janie has never exposed him to these things. Noah is very much terrified of water and bath is a constant battle between Janie and Noah. He also speaks of the time when he was Tommy and lived in the red house in the field in some place called Ashview. After sending him to different psychiatrists, she is at her wits end to find a cure for her troubled child. Enter Professor Jerome Anderson who is into research about reincarnations and consciousness and he, for many decades has been studying young children who seem to recall details from previous lives. Anderson is diagnosed with a rare form of Alphasia and  time is running out for him to prove his point about reincarnation and changeability of consciousness.

His legacy ---oh, he had had high hopes for himself, but he hadn’t gotten very far. There were so many things he still didn’t know. Why were some children born with memories of past lives, their bodies marked with the imprints of past traumas? Was it related (it had to be ) to the fact that 70 persecent of the previous personalities these children remembered had died traumatic deaths?

Noah’s case seems to be Anderson’s only chance to finish his book on the research he has done. Janie is running out of money and  her work is very much disrupted due to Noah’s behaviour. She loves Noah thus she is desperate to find a cure for her son even if Anderson’s theory is not what she is ready to hear let alone accept.

Janie believed in consistency. It was something she took pride in. She said ,”No crackers before bedtime,” and then she stuck with it .She had been even-tempered (mostly);she had been constant (as much as possible). Kids needed that.

She had tried to create order in Noah’s life the way her mother had created order in her own, after the chaos of living with her father. She didn’t remember much of the time before her father had left them. There was a memory of sitting high up on his shoulders at the state fair – but was that a real memory or something she made up from a picture she had ? There was the time the two of them went to the mall on some errand and he had spontaneously bought a huge stuffed polar bear for her, far too big for any room but the living room, and her mother objected but then laughed and let her keep it there beside the TV. There was the smell of his pipe and his scotch, and the sound of him banging on the door all night long when he drank and her mother wouldn’t let him in. There was her mother holding a water glass filled with red wine (the first and only time Janie had seen her drink). Telling her in the matter-of –fact voice she always had that she had asked him to leave and he wasn’t ever coming back, and she was right; he didn’t. Janie was ten then. She remembered that day perfectly, the startling sight of her mother drinking in the afternoon, the way the wine had splashed as her mother talked and Janie had been nervous it would spill over.'

The Forgetting Time is about the length a mother will go for her child and that it examines the possibility that consciousness might survive death. Ms Guskin's writing is beautiful. The novel is a fabulous debut, an engaging read indeed.


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