Saturday, May 06, 2006

Remembering and Forgetting

2006 April.

By learning how to cunningly optimize the peripheral vision in my right eye, I can see the tips of fingers wiggling low down and right. This, I must understand, is not the start of a miracle cure but merely my adaptation to the condition in which I find myself.

There is no point in remembering the world in which I saw sharply because that is not the world in which I live. In fact, the greater probability is that I will go stone blind, and, quite possibly, fast.

What I have to do now is make a go of the world in which I find myself, complete with the imperfections of both my eyesight and my memory.

While cleaning up my personal room, I discover bottles of eye drops, presumably precious at the time, which I can no longer remember having been prescribed. In fact, I can no longer remember the disease conditions for which I was given these eyedrops.

In a forgotten drawer I discover a hard plastic container with ridged rectangular sides. It seems to be squirtable so, incautiously, I squirt it, spraying my cheek and almost accidentally contaminating the interior of my ear.

There is a faint and perhaps imaginary odor of something vaguely alcoholic.

Presumably this device is some kind of medical applicator, but when I was given it or why I have no idea, and I have no certain hypothesis about its use.

I decide to bin it; its inevitable destiny is going to be to get thrown away, like the countless files, folders and document-stuffed envelopes that I do not have the leisured old age for sorting out and contemplating at length.

I have no need to remember what it is that glows in a ghostly circle in the darkness of my personal room in the deepness of night. It reminds me of its own existence. It is the roll of luminous safety tape that I bought in New Zealand and will use in Japan to selectively outline the runners of stairs and the like.

Similarly, my wife remembers her own identity, and my two-year-old daughter remembers that she is my daughter and that I am her father.

"Onbu!" she says. "Onbu!"

Meaning: piggy back.

("Thank you" is technically part of her vocabulary but not something that she chooses to use very often.)

I think in more polite Japanese this would be, to your boss, for example:

"Chotto shitsurei desu ga, onbu kudasaimasen ka?"

("Excuse me, but could you give me a little piggy back?")

But I am not certain of this, so I suggest running this formulation past your Japanese teacher before going and trying it on your boss.

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