Sunday, April 01, 2007

Deepest Darkest

I initially considered scribbling about my deepest, darkest emotion: fear. How I gulp down worry about going back to Afghanistan. Will I get sick again? Can I handle the dizzying maze of Afghan etiquette and politics?

But that's just too heavy right now. I don't feel like giving all that time and attention to fear. It gets boring. Also, the living room is hot and heavily scented with my mom's Sunday cooking and all I can think about is ice cream. So, I pushed the fear to the side and reached further in.

When I delve into the deepest darkest depths of my mind, I uncover memories that are not mine and memories that aren’t necessarily theirs but collective memories of the family. Each is different, somewhat skewed depending on the person who heard it and who they heard it from.

They are funny stories, sad stories, and some random anecdotes that were repeated so often that they have firmly taken hold in my mind. They are stored in the back of my mind, like dusty boxes of sugar cubes, ready to be pulled out over tea but rarely are anymore.

Like the time most of the family went to India. They stopped off in a new Pakistan and the children wrangled permission to watch the new Elizabeth Taylor movie, Cleopatra. Unfortunately, the children refused to stand up during the Pakistani national anthem and were kicked out of the movie theater.
Or do you remember W? She played basketball like a man; she would’ve been in the WNBA...
And I wonder, what will I contribute to the list of stories? Will the next generation listen and will they store this in the dark, dank cabinets of their minds, pulling the expired memories out and thinking, why do I know this? What use is this? Of course, the answer is this: to add more color to your life, add a dash of Technicolor to our black and white memories. So, here is my addition to the family cupboard:

During our trip to India, H and I, spent long days out and about, despite the weather. It was either raining or we waded through the wet about-to-rain air, hoping for air-conditioned stores with pretty saris. One evening, as we neared the end of our shopping expedition, I dragged H into a lovely store. It was well lit and organized well, each sari on a hanger and tagged. The hangers were hung in shelves with sliding glass doors.

I found a burgundy sari with delicate gold embroidery. Breathtaking. The color was just right and the embroidery was perfect. I needed it.

I slid the glass door to the side, pulled it out and called to H, “Hey, come help me bargain for this.”

H responded, “Well, ask how many meters first.”

I turned to the salesman, who took the sari from me and gave me a look. I imagined that he was taking in my shiny face, frizzy hair and muddy pants. Perhaps he thought I couldn't pay for it. I gave him a haughty look and took the sari back from him and said, “How many meters?” in clear, precise English.

The salesman with the same bemused expression, took the sari back again and said, “Ma’am, this is a dry-cleaner, not a store.”

**For more Sunday Scribblings.


Frida said...

He he he, you really showed him how smart you were.

One more time - how about that book?

I can sympathise very much with the fear of coming back here - and for all I know it might not be the right thing for you to do. But if you decide it is right for you - know I'll be here, only a few electronic moments away.


Crafty Green Poet said...

The dry cleaner story really made me laugh! I think your comments about the collective memories of a family are really interesting, I know exactly what you mean about some things not being your own memories..

omg said...

Ahhh, haha. That's too funny. How have I not heard about this before.

"I uncover memories that are not mine and memories that aren’t necessarily theirs but collective memories of the family." That's wonderfully put, and I understand the concept completely. Great idea, to touch on that topic.

Thanks for sharing!

Scott said...


I bet that was pretty awkward... I think my family has memories like that too... always good times!

I referenced your blog in a post I recently made about Afghanistan and was interested in your feedback. Take a look:


AnnieElf said...

I admire the ancestral memories that are collected and remembered as family stories. Your post made me think about my family memories. I realized that I have more than I would have imagined. I believe I have a new topic to write about. Thanks!!!

Tarous said...

Ha! Open mouth and insert foot. Funny!

homeinkabul said...

Y'all don't know. It makes me giggle just thinking about it.

homeinkabul said...

Oh and thank you everyone for the compliments.