MIDWAY: Attention deficit

There are three things I always forget. Names, faces and - the third I can’t remember, said Italo Svevo, the famous Italian writer. Those fateful words could literally come out of my mouth. My sieve-like mind doesn’t seem to be able to retain anything, often landing me in the soup — I tend to forget the most important information when I need it the most.

An average person wastes at least half an hour everyday trying to locate the stuff he’s misplaced. Half an hour, you say? Anything under a couple of hours wouldn’t be surprising. This misplaced watch, that carelessly-tossed handkerchief, those scattered books; specs, wallet, socks — you name it.

Repressed sexual urges, psychoanalysts say, result in severe symptoms of forgetfulness. Traumatic incidents are the main cause, modern psychologists concur, forgetfulness helping the brain comes to terms with the tragic events. But the most common cause, the consensus goes, is not remembering “the thing” in the first place: the attention deficit. When one has made no effort to keep something in mind, how can one expect to retrieve it? It’s akin to trying to drink water out of an elusive oasis in a desert. To put it another way, if you want not to forget, you should have ‘something’ to remember: we see, but seldom do we observe, we hear but very rarely do we pay close attention to the sound.

Meanwhile, nothing seems to work for me: meditation, medication, merry-making, and so on. I even forced myself to observe things. But, as I discover, forcing seldom helps. We should train our minds to observe things or events naturally. Little wonder then I get poor grades. I forgot the name of one of my best friends of yore when I bumped into him on the street. And I get scared stiff of interviews lest I forget my own name. No. Self-pity is no use.

Last year, the birthday of my best friend slipped out of my mind. The year before, that of my sister. My only sister! Not long ago, I was to call my girlfriend to fix a secret meeting place. But alas! My memory let me down when I tried to jerk back to my mind her phone number. Raving mad, she refused to speak to me for a whole long week. Thank God... Oh shoot! What was her cell number, again?