Sunday, November 03, 2013
Earliest memories: a bath, my mother pouring bucketfuls of ice cold water on me and on herself (buckets? why?). A pretty big leaf in the garden with white or yellow veins or spots -looked pretty and tasty, I had to eat that (some post memory of being ill and severely told not to eat the leaves in the garden. However, I don’t actually remember any of the latter, just the shiny leaf. How can I call the latter part a memory? Do I remember it, in any sense? Did I make it up long afterwards, or conflate it from separate early events? The refrigerated counter at a local shop, my mum being handed some Gerber toddler food. I liked the apple ‘compota’. Still do, if I think about it -I ‘remember’ the taste so clearly. Can you remember taste? A dark room, view of the fridge in the room outside, with the big 1940’s style radio set on it. Impossibly high. There is somebody else in the room. My sisters, I reckon (but again, this may be reconstruction ‘a posteriori’). Mix this with long lost photographs, recovered many many years later, in which a toddler-size flavio is playing in a tiny cemented inner patio or back yard, while father looks sternly over the scene. Odd that my father figures so little in my early memories, which are so full of my mother. Or perhaps it is natural, he would have been out working most of the day and, if later life gives the right pattern, hitting the local bars in the evening. The moon hanging above, my dad is carrying me over the open terrace to my room, I must have been asleep and wake up as he was carrying me. For some reason this memory is entangled with the vague memory (more an idea than a memory) of a parmesan cheese, of all things. It would have been difficult to get hold of real parmesan cheese, let alone a whole one, in Venezuela in the late ‘50s or early ‘60s. No idea about the story behind it. I hated it, the smell and the taste. But I ‘know’ this, not ‘remember’ it in visual terms. What, then, is a memory?