We've all been there. A question arises and you know the answer and yet, even though it might be on the tip of your tongue, you just can't seem to grasp it. Unveiling how memories are formed, retained and recollected has been one of research's greatest challenges. Germs however, may have already solved the riddle.
The Komagata Maru was introduced to me sandwiched between narratives of the Chinese Head Tax and Japanese Internment. It had no scope to breathe. No room for discussion and further explanation. And it was the only time I remember seeing people that looked like me in my school textbooks. But the Komagata Maru is more elusive. It took me years to unlearn the biases I had built up around the story, hear the voices of the pioneers and understand the history on its own terms.
Memory is not just our past -- it is also our present. Memory tells us how to send an email, how to get from here to there, to put on our underpants before our outerwear, how to use a knife and fork, even how to swallow. Memory is the ON button for every function we take for granted. That is the mystery that surrounds every Alzheimer's patient. How much are they aware of what they are losing?
It's the time our New Year rolls around followed by the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. For me, my thoughts are laced with tears, confusion and questions about humankind. It is the time I think of my father's family -- all but him murdered in the gas chambers of the Treblinka Death Camp. It is a time I recall my journey to that place.