I believe for most of us it would be a particular incident or moment etched in our minds when we were three or four years old. My own earliest memory is from when I was about four years old – I remember walking excitedly along with my grandfather, holding his hand tightly – it was the day he came to pick me up from my kindergarten, to take me to the hospital to meet my newborn sister for the very first time.
I often ponder how wonderful it would be if we could remember events from when we were even younger – what if we could remember and recollect memories from when we were yet in our mother’s womb?
In the quiet confines of the womb, we are enveloped in a world of warmth and protection. It is a sanctuary where we grow and develop, shielded from the complexities of the outside world. But can we as tiny, fragile beings, possibly harbour memories of events that unfolded when we were still in our watery cocoons? Could they perhaps shape our personalities or decide the course of our lives even before we draw our first breath?
I have heard my father recount the events of a night when my mother, pregnant and expecting me, had fallen ill. During those days, we used to stay at a house where there was no direct access for transportation. This left him with no choice but to carry my mother (and me) along a railway track for nearly two kilometres to the nearest hospital. My grandfather walked along, holding a torch to ensure that my father did not trip and fall on the wooden sleepers. I can't help but wonder if, within the confines of my mother's womb, I could sense the tumultuous journey taking place outside. Did those vibrations and fluctuations ripple through the invisible connections between us, leaving imprints of strength and resilience in my earliest memories?
The strength, dedication and tenderness my father displayed that night - could it have etched itself into my subconscious, laying the foundation for a profound appreciation of my parents' unwavering support? Perhaps those memories from the womb, intangible yet ever-present, could explain the depth of my bond with them, a connection that transcends mere biology. Perhaps it shaped the foundation of my own understanding of love, teaching me that it was all about selflessness and sacrifice. Could it be possible that these memories, or echoes, influence the way I perceive my parents - an eternal connection that transcends even time?
While it may be tempting to idealize these memories, it is essential to acknowledge that the womb can also bear witness to pain. In a world marred by tragedy and cruelty, the unborn child is not immune to the horrors that unfold around them. The mere thought of an abusive husband inflicting harm upon his pregnant wife sends shivers down my spine. How does one bear the weight of such darkness? These suppressed memories, lurking in the depths of one's being, may manifest in inexplicable fears, insecurities, or a distorted view of relationships.
I am now inclined to believe that more than just an ability to have such memories, what really matters is being conscious of the potential overall impact they may have on us. It's possible that such early memories can span time and close the gap between the past and present. Whether or not these memories can be consciously recalled or analyzed has little bearing on how significantly they can influence us in forming our perceptions, our interactions with others, and our ability to understand and navigate the world.
For I am convinced that the essence of our existence rests in the interwoven fabric of all our memories - the ones that we can explicitly recall and the ones that have been ingrained into us, even though some of them may be memories in the womb residing in depths far beyond our immediate and conscious reach.
Artwork by Namitha Maria Cherian