Friday, March 2, 2018

Yesterday Once More

Cambridge, England
Good memory can be a curse if we want to do the forgetting and forgetting is not possible. I have an uncle who  is in his nineties. I remember having this conversation about Japanese restaurants and that there is a grocer in his neighbourhood selling Japanese food products. He told me that he had never stepped into any Japanese restaurant or shop and  would not intend to. He explained that he could not forget what happened during the Japanese Occupation  in World War II. The irony is  that his wife who is my mother's sister is suffering from dementia and she is doing all the forgetting including the pains that her husband might have caused her. 

Whether unwittingly or wittingly we all have selective memory. To keep our sanity, we may consciously choose not to dwell on bad memories, otherwise these bad experiences can stop us in our tracks and prevent us from moving on. Revisitng the past can invite nostalgia for some people and for some others, they wish they could re-write their past. What if you had to keep a journal, what would you like your future self to know about  you ? 
In Yesterday written by Felicia Yap , there are only two categories of people. Monos, the majority , have only one day memory while the elite Duos have two days’ worth of memory. They have to record their days in their iDiaries so they can have a memory of some kind. The question is: Can one be  truthful in their account of their everyday? 

Mark Henry Evans, a novelist and an aspiring politician is a Duo and he is married to Claire, Mono. Mark is vying to be the next MP for South Cambridgeshire. A body has been found in the river behind the Evans' home. Hans Richardson, the detective investigating the case has thought that he would take after Duo Dad and not Mono Mum and one morning , he wakes up and realises that he can’t remember what happened two days ago. It is catastrophic but  Hans continues to masquerade  as a Duo and he  needs to solve the crime in twenty-four hours. The body is one Sophia Alyssa Ayling and she has been involved with Mark for some time. Monos can only remember what happened yesterday and Duos can remember the day before yesterday thus they are regarded as more superior and a class above.Claire is devastated after discovering that her Duo husband has been unfaithful, she is also troubled by the fact that Mark is the prime suspect for the murder. The characters have to rely on their iDiaries to help them understand the past. Claire and Mark have different  account of the past in the life  they have shared together.

As the story unfolds, there are skeletons in their closet. The story takes place in a village near Cambridge and it is narrated in the first person’s voice. Detective Hans is combing through Sophia’s iDiary to solve the crime. He is racing against time.

She’s mad . Positively rabid. Also clueless about the way good detectives operate. But her diary’s strangely compelling. Unfathomable vitriol, when coupled with a healty dose of insanity, has a way of making even a hardened inspector turn pages. I’m inclined to read on, even though her diary has taken up another twenty minutes of my precious time.
    But I need some coffee first. My head is crying out for an injection of caffeine. I get up from my chair, grimacing at the pins and needles shooting up my legs. Just then. Tobt comes rushing in with a pile of papers.
  “ Hans,” he says. “ I’ve tracked down her Barclays records------“
“ Let me guess. She’s flush.”'

Sophia remembers everything thus she is full of vengeance and suffering from the pains that cannot heal despite having spent 17 years in St Augustine, a mental hospital . In order to be certified sound to be released, she had to keep up the façade for the warders by maintaining a iDiary so as to appear “ normal”.

In Sophia’s iDiary, she writes:

‘ Why can’t I be like the other people around me?  Like the Mono housewife who lives next door with her cat and husband. Who wakes up cheerful most mornings. Ready to begin yet another page of her life. Emotionally untainted by the previous pages. Blissful in her selective ignorance.

      She isn’t a prisoner of her unwanted past.
      Will I ever be free from bad memories? Free of the traumas clogging my mind. Swamping it . Weighing it down. Free of the baggage of memory. The burden of remembering. Free of knowing what I do not wish to know. ‘

Sophia also writes in her iDiary ,

Yet bad memories have a stubborn tendency to stick around. The god-awful ones. They refuse to travel down the fuzzy route. They creep back into my mind at the most inaopportune moments. They haunt me in the middle of the night. '

In the story, the Monos and the Duos live in a world where technology defines them.

Technology defines us, whether we like it or not. These days, we are utterly dependent on external devices as repositories of facts, assumptions, and memories. We are but the sum total of our digital presence. We are but the sum total of our digital presence. We use iDiaries and social media networks to define and delude ourselves because they contain what we prefer to remember. What we want the outer world to see. Yet our carefully curated public personae frequently bear like resemblance to our true inner selves. The two faces of our remembered lives are disparate and often contradictory.

                                                            ----“The Curse of Modern Technology”
                                                                          The Guardian, 2 April 2015'

Yesterday is a page turner.  I like it because the story is about love between two people even though their union is disapproved  by the society they live in. It is also about memories and what we choose to believe and things that  we could remember but must forget.....

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