It has been many years since I last visited the little village where I spent my childhood. The small town has seen many changes since then. It is now a modern city with traffic problems and an overgrowing population. It is no longer a place I left behind, but it carries memories of my childhood that I enjoyed growing up.
It reminds me of my earlier days, the time in my life I could never forget, the life I could never live again. Everyone has some kind of childhood memories in the form of photographs, places, souvenirs, memorable incidents, movies etc. These memories remind us of our past and make us wonder how we survived through good and bad times. Some of us have happy memories and some sad. "Mind is reconstructive: Events are imperfectly remembered. Many events are not remembered at all.
Some events are remembered initially but later gradually forgotten. A trigger (e. g. an article in a newspaper, a photograph of a friend etc) might bring back a recently forgotten memory" (Robinson 1). Two of the essays from The Fourth Genre that remind me of childhood memories are The Silent Dancing by Judith Ortiz Cofer and Independence Day, Manley Hot Springs, Alaska by Lisa D.
Chavez. In the first essay Cofer writes about a home movie that seems to be connected with her childhood life. The movie relates to the author some of the past family events and forgotten talks. It reminds her of her life in Paterson, New York and the influence of American culture on Puerto Ricans. Cofer seems to be able to put together various family incidents that come to her mind as the movie unfolds.
Regarding the movie, Cofer writes, "It is grainy and of short duration, but it's a great visual aid to my memory of life at that time. And it is in color-the only complete scene in color I can recall from those years" (Cofer 42). In the second essay Chavez talks about her family migration from California to Alaska, to seek a better life. She talks about the problems she faced during that period and how she handled it bravely as a child. She narrates a few incidents of racial discrimination she faced during that period and her helplessness as a child during that time. Manley Hot Springs, a small town in Alaska serves as a reminder to Chavez's memories.
Chavez writes, "Manley Hot Springs was a defining moment of my life in Alaska" (Chavez 35). There are certain similarities that one can find in these essays. Both narrate childhood memories, migration to a new place, racial discrimination and fear, and the problems faced during that period. Cofer's parents migrated to United States from Puerto Rico and Chavez's mother migrated from California to Alaska to seek a better life.
Chavez's migration turns out to be fruitful in the end. Her mom is able to get a good job and settle down in Alaska the way she wanted. Cofer talks more about loneliness as most of her relatives have passed away and she does not conclude whether her father did the right thing by migrating to United States. However, the presentation of each essay differs from one another. Cofer in her essay talks about the movie for a while and then goes back into her past and again continues with the movie. She does this all the time during her essay and remembers her past by watching the silent movie which is about a party in which people are dancing.
Chavez on the other hand is more narrative and writes continuous. She talks about her migration to Alaska, the discrimination she faced and how she finally settled down making Alaska her homeland. She talks about few incidents one by one as we read on. When I think about my home in our village, images of my childhood with my family come back to me. A wooden gate opens up a beautiful garden filled with flowers and trees, welcomed by the cackles of domestic hens, the house was simple with minimalist decor but bustling with activity. The house reminds me of the family reunion we use to have where my immediate and extended family used to get together to celebrate joyous occasions.
I still remember our first movie camera that my father bought. We were so excited to know that we could record movies the way we like, of our family and watch them using a projector. It was amazing at that time, to see ourselves come to life on a screen. I still have the oldest movie that my father took. I watch it over and over again. There are so many relatives that passed away since, but the projector brought them back to life, as if they are still around.
I felt just like Cofer, the way she recalls her past after watching her family movie, the family talk of the people who have gone silent never to talk again. But soon my father took a new job in Bombay, a city located on western side of the Indian subcontinent and we had to move. We struggled to settle down in this new place, living in small apartments and getting used to the ups and downs of metropolitan city life. This reminds me of Chavez's life and her struggle to adjust in Alaska with people who look and behave strangely.
In conclusion I would say that life is full of memories, both good and bad. Some make you cry, some make you laugh and others that make you wonder.