Posts Tagged ‘Sonali Deraniyagala’

Children and memory

March 14, 2013

By coincidence lately I am reading about loss and about memory.  First, John O’Farrell’s entertaining homily about a failed marriage – The Man Who Forgot His Wife – and now a review of Wave: A Memoir of Life After the Tsunami by Sonali Deraniyagala.  The review talks about loss and the healing power of writing, and of remembering through writing.  Two reactions: I wonder if I want to read the book?  And: I could use that.  We hear about “finding a space to feel suffering as well as joy, and realising one was an aspect of the other.”  It could be a deconstructive move, but apparently this is Buddhist thought.


It sounds like a wonderful, sane method.  I grieved so long for Josie, but always through a kind of rationalising pain: anger and arguments for the lost present and the lost future, never through remembering what we really had in the short years when I was her mother.  How should I achieve this alternative method?  In chronological order, or in the order of the memories?  Some of those memories are hackneyed, familiar, over-rehearsed.  I wonder whether I will discover more as I work it through?  Typing here isn’t the way, I think.  Handwriting is what is needed.


And then Deraniyagala’s reviewer (Tim Adams) sees again the difficult wisdom that we all know as an intellectual truth, but find so hard to know in our souls: “all childhoods are about transience, every day, and all parenting is about mourning little bits of that passing.”  Thus it truly is.  It doesn’t matter now what might have taken place in Josie’s childhood (or in any of them, I suppose) because now they are adults, and those little children aren’t gone, exactly, but they hover, loved, in memory.  Unless we work differently with memory, we see them schematically, like ghosts, through photos and through re-told stories and we access our knowledge of them erratically.  I look forward to trying the writing method.

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