Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Can you hug a memory?

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A memorable line from Anik See's Saudade (Coach House Books) is one, and I'm paraphrasing, says that you can't hug a memory. A hug conjures images of an embrace that's warm, comforting, reassuring, familiar. A hug suggests a re-affirmation, often without words, of a relationship. It may be a newly established one, such as a hug at the end of dinner party as someone makes their way out the door. Yet often the most meaningful hugs, the hugs we want to make again and again, represent existing relationships that are of some significance to us.

A hug is physical, bodily as it is emotional, but a memory, though emotional seems mental, psychological. Yet, following the thread of my previous posts around Walter Benjamin and Anik See, both contemplate how objects can serve as repositories for our memories. Often it might be a favourite or treasured object that we come to in times that we do need comfort, warmth and familiarity (for example, as the days get shorter and colder, during times of anxiety and crisis, etc.) When we feel those objects, caress their shape, perhaps a mere mental or emotional memory becomes physicalized, becomes like a hug. We may not always do it, and certainly, if the object is overly familiar and quotidian, it will lose its ability, I think, to create the specialness we want our memories to possess. I wonder whether that is why we sometimes wonder about why people hold onto things, or have such difficulty parting with the most mundane and everyday of things: such as a cracked coffee mug or a pot that will never be able to fully cleaned. Often it might be due to a thrift mentality, a holdover of a time when possessions were scarcer for that person, or it may be that person is a packrat. It may, however, be someone who is just trying to keep a comforting, friendly hug nearby, available for those moments when they need one.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Nitin Deckha

Nitin Deckha is the author of Shopping for Sabzi (TSAR Publications, 2008) and a contributor to Once Upon a Time in Bollywood (TSAR Publications, 2007) and several other publications.

Go to Nitin Deckha ’s Author Page