Memory of Objects
A few days ago, I found an old ink box in my drawer when I was looking for pencil lead for my mechanical pencil. The quaint thingy has been lying in the deepest corner of my drawer for so long that I have already forgotten its existence.
I’ve always believed that people can resonate with objects, which hold memories from the past. The moment I picked up the ink box, I felt its memory: it was originally given to me as a birthday present from one of my classmates at junior high, when using ink pens was a trend among youngsters as it was considered fancier than writing with ball pens. All of a sudden, memories flooded my mind. The ink box was once treasured so much that even though refilling ink can be very inconvenient, I still use ink pen for most of my writings and assignments. I remembered once I left the ink box at home, and I thought it was lost at school. My friends and I looked for it all over campus until dark and I was so upset that I even dropped a few tears. Thinking about it, I realized I haven’t been in touch with my once closest friend for a while, so I took a picture of the ink box and sent it to the old group chat.
I treasure little moments like this, so I seldom get rid of my old stuff. Instead, I view them as my attachments to the past, when I throw away something, I feel like I am throwing away a part of myself as the memory it holds might never come back to me.
I still keep my notebooks, all of them, from primary school to this semester. From time to time, I would use a ladder to climb to my upper bookshelf and take some of them down and review them. Of course, I should have been very familiar with the contents (except in some high school notes, some of the formulas not commonly used became a little rusty SHAME!), however, when I touched the words and the pages, the notebooks becomes a medium through which I retain my original mindsets, a tool which helps me remember what I was thinking when I wrote it, and a reminder of my past experience. Sometimes between the pages, I can find pieces of “little notes” that hold conversations. Chinese schools are very strict in restricting students talking in class, so sometimes students take the short windows when teachers are writing on blackboard to pass “little notes” that hold leisure conversations. It seems a bit of a risky way to have conversations given the punishment of getting caught is reading the content out loud in front of the class which is often a little humiliating, but we still find great deal of fun doing it. Looking back, it really hurts me when I can’t even recall who was I writing to on a piece of “little note”, as it feels like that part of memory, even with exterior aid, has departed me forever. More often, I am entertained by reading the horrible hand writings and drawings and a little surprised by how naive and childish I was.
My collection does not end at notebooks. From broken pens to worn mechanical pencil, from “the Readers” to “the World of Go” (both are famous magazines), from school uniforms to team jerseys, wallets, pictures, documents, awards, action figures, computers, and so many others. These are all my treasures that hold my memories.
The memories objects hold can be shared among people. When I touch the cyan walls and the green tiles in the old streets of Beijing, I can feel the stories and history they hold. When I visit the forbidden city and behold the True Dragon Seat, I can see not too long ago, an emperor sat on it and ruled the Eastern world. When I sit on the stairs of Confucius Temple, I feel that he used to sit on the very same spot when he had these classic inspiring conversations with other scholars, and the giant tree beside could have been just planted when he heard these words.
I like to imagine after my departure from the world, there might be someone who would go through all my stuff, and these objects could somehow resonate with the person and share my past experience. When he/she picked up my old ink box, can it tell my stories?(Now that I wrote it, maybe it will.)