Sunday, May 25, 2014

Memoire No Hogosha #5

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*****

The water from the mud seeped slowly through Joshua's shoes, as he stood there on the swamp. Tree leaves brushed behind him, while the wind carried the salty smell of the sea to his nose. Over at the horizon, Joshua could see the industrial buildings that made up the northern part of Singapore, their chimneys spewing out white smoke towards the sky. Joshua used to cross this expanse of sea often, back when he was still studying in Singapore. But it was with Malaysia where his love lies, and so after he finished his bond, he made his way back.

It has been two weeks since he has started walking. Joshua did not know it then, but nobody seemed to have noticed that he had gone missing. Not his housemates, not his friends, not even his family. In their memory, he simply ceased to exist. His housemates came back one day and was surprised to find that someone had left his entire belongings in their house, but tried as they might, they could not think of who it belonged too. Eventually they called the landlord, who exclaimed that it might have been his son, who was now in the UK.

In his old house, back in the small town of Ipoh, Joshua's family was busy showing off their family album to visiting friends. Joshua's mum pointed out at how naughty her children once were when they were growing up, showing her friends pictures of them in bicycles, cable cars and around the dining table. However, instead of three children that she once had, there were only two of them in the picture. The place where Joshua used to be in those pictures was empty, with only the background filling in.

"Memories form an integral part in our identity," the voice echoed in Joshua's head again, as he tried to remember everything that he had experience during the walk. It was the first sentence that was said to him, as he stepped out of his house.

"Who we are, the way that we think, our likes and dislikes, our core beliefs are all affected by what we remember. Who do we become in the future is determined by what we can remember today. If we remember our childhood as a period of hell, where our parents are evil, we would grow up to be bitter and hateful of life. On the other hand, if our parents are remembered as stern but loving, we would grow up to be grateful instead, to be more understanding and loving. And in the same essence, how humanity moves and evolves, depends largely on what we could remember collectively as well. Which is why the battle for our memory has been going on ever since the dawn of time," those were the first words that were said to Joshua.

"Have you ever heard of the story of the serpent and Eve, back in the Garden of Eden?" Joshua nodded. While he appeared to be walking on the side of the road then, in his mind, all he could see was the same white space that he was in. The place that reminded him of the snow he had seen so long ago. A figure, old but yet still strong, stood in front of him. The previous master of the sword, Joshua recognized.

"That was the first instance where our memory was tempered with," the old man continued.

"What did your bible said, can you remember?" the old man asked Joshua.

"Not very clearly, just that the snake tempted Eve by asking her to eat the fruit?" It has been years since Joshua last read the opening verse of Genesis, having heard too much a time the story from Sunday school. As long as he got the gist of the story right, that was all that matters, he thought.

"Correct, but not so correct," the old man smiled. "You see, the snake was crafty, that your bible was correct in. The first words that it asked Eve was, 'Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?'. That was the first ever challenge to our memory. Of course the bible watered down the entire exchange of the conversation, so you do not know the entire account of what happened. When Eve said that she indeed remembered God saying that the tree was dangerous, the serpent, knowing that human's memory were fallible, challenged her to it."

"'Are you sure that God said that you would really die from eating this? Or did he just said that he would prefer you not to eat this, because it has the juiciest fruit of all? I think he said that though, as I was there listening as well. He merely asked you all to eat other fruits first, because a pretty fruit like this should be left to be admired, right? I'm sure he did not say die, so it is alright.' That was what the serpent said. Of course, the fact that Eve and Adam were curious and naive did not help too, but the first seed of doubt against our own memory was planted," the old man continued. Joshua could see himself standing in the midst of the garden, watching as the event unfolded.

"It was from there God found out that his creation was not entirely perfect, as they could not remember as accurately as He could. By the time it was too late, as everything has been set in motion. But He would not give up, of course, and that was where we come in. He had devised a way for us to remember, and that was through the recordings of our memory. Essentially, we are writing our memories down. Which was why Moses was instructed to write everything down since the beginning of time, so that future generations would not forget."

"In a way, Moses was the first Hogosha, but of course, they didn't call us that back then," the old man winked.

*****

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