Forgetting is a blessing

Amal Chatterjee
9 min readOct 24, 2021

Source : Google photo

Synopsis : We all have good as well as bad memories of people we met but our brain thankfully deletes the memories of bad people and their names because they never became our friends. This ability of our brain protects us from hurt feelings so it is a blessing.

When I was a college student, we had to memorize a lot of things in practically all subjects. How much we retained in our brain depended upon how much we could memorize and how well we memorized. The test came in the examination hall when we were given the question sheet and a blank answer book so we read with some trepidation what the questions were because there were always some surprises.

Now we had to seriously read the questions and decide which one to answer first so that we could utilize the most efficient way the time to answer the questions in three hours’ time we were provided. If we knew the answer to the question then it went quite smoothly and became easier for us to write the answers.

The trouble started when we came to the questions that were tough to answer so we usually attended to them the last but with less worry because by this time we were sure to pass the exam since we had answered 4 out of 6 questions well to our satisfaction. But the last two questions became a source of concern because our brain did not come up with the answers quickly the way the first four were tackled.

So I came up with the strategy for tough questions and devised a method to memorize the answers that I could instantly recall at the time of the exam.

In our entomology class we were taught how many types of antennae the insects have and what the names were. All the types started with an alphabet so I made a word out of it that meant nothing but was easy to remember like AKRABOTERE.

It so happened that this question was asked in our final exam so I wrote down the word I had memorized and answered in detail all the types after making a sketch with colored pencil of the antenna, the name and what insects have this type of antenna. The result was that I scored high on this exam so it was mentioned in the certificate of graduation as a special mention.

I tried this method in other subjects as well because it served me well during my studentship in college.

It is the memory that is needed to study any subject and do it well because if we cannot remember then we cannot learn that subject well enough to pass. It is the nightmare of every student if his brain goes blank during the exam time so he desperately seeks the answers that he needs to pass.

In our real life we are no longer required to remember our subjects because we have passed all exams and now have a job somewhere but to get there we often face a job interview when some awkward questions may be thrown at us to which we may not be able to answer satisfactorily. The real life is different from the college life that required us to study hard and remember our subjects.

Our brain works in mysterious ways that we humans often fail to understand. The efficacy of brain power varies from person to person that determines the IQ of that person. Some people remember everything effortlessly because they have photographic memory but they are rare people. Such people succeed in overcoming whatever challenge they face in life and become great scientists, engineers or mathematicians.

But for the rest of the humanity, we are stuck with the average brain capacity that often depends upon the environment where we grew up. Illiterate and vulgar parents do not teach their kids anything except what they know which amounts to nothing while the educated parents can teach their kids a great deal of what the kid needs to be successful in life.

The college teachers can only hone the brain a child has to learn various subjects but it does not work equally for all students. That is why in every class, there are those students who stand out while others sit in the back benches. A good teacher helps those who lag behind so that they too can graduate someday.

While I understood the power of the brain in retention of anything we learn as we grow up passing through many stages in our life, I also started to realize that forgetting something can also be a blessing which now brings us to the subject of this blog.

Our brain has the ability to retain the memories in some shape and form. It can be vivid or just a blur depending on the importance of what we try to retain. I think it is a part of our nature that we try hard to remember pleasant and important things but do not try at all to remember unpleasant people. I remember for example my high school roll number 97463 even after 60 years because it was my first board exam success at a tender age that opened up the whole world of education and excitement for me. I remembered because it was important to me.

Those who do not know what a Board exam is should know that a Board exam is organized by the state that thousands of students take on a given date and a subject no matter where they live in the state or province. The examiner remains anonymous and the student is just given a roll number so that the examiner knows nothing about the student. Once all the exams are done, the Board office then tallies the result for each student and publishes in the local news paper later.

But I have a difficult time to remember names of some people who were not my friends and were unpleasant to boot. I vaguely remember their faces but nothing more so they have all faded from my memory which I consider a blessing. A memory that brings back bad feelings about a person because they behaved the way they did is better off when dumped into the wastebasket of life. It is simply not worth remembering such people so our brain deletes the memory.

This ability of our brain to delete certain bad memories gives space in our brain for things to remember that has a positive impact on us. The impact of positive thinking cannot be over emphasized because it helps us become a better person.

We meet all kinds of people in our life in our school, college and later in our office, in our community where we live, in our society in general and even on the streets and other public places. We meet discourteous, ill mannered, arrogant and selfish people everywhere. We meet them in government offices, in our work places, in the markets, in the rural and urban areas etc.

Such people always leave a bad impression that you try to erase so our brain comes to our aid and deletes such people in order to increase our mental wellbeing and keep us sane. If your brain is filled with bad memories of bad people, it may cause severe depression that can physically make you unable to cope with it. Severely abused people often take their own life to escape such mental torture.

Others become extremely paranoid, mistrustful of others and vengeful because they fail to get solace or justice for what was done to them. They become mean, arrogant and selfish toward others whom they try to use for their own selfish reasons.

It is quite amazing what a child remembers since the time he becomes aware of people around him. He at first does not know how to speak but tries to imitate what he hears and tries to remember. People do not believe when I say that I remember my first birthday and the period before that when lying on my back I used to pull up my toes to suck. It is not unusual. There are many such people who will tell you about their earliest memories.

Babies in the womb of their mothers are known to listen to music if the mother plays piano or sings to the baby. Later after his birth he may avidly listen to music and develop an interest in it to the extent that he may become a singer or a pianist himself later in his life. His likes and dislikes have to do with what he retains in his memory.

If a child had a bad experience with a spider or an animal, he may develop a fear of it because his memory tells him to avoid it. If he got an electric shock or burned his finger, he will remember it and avoid it in the future.

This ability of the human brain to remember bad things serves a purpose. It protects the kid in the future by reminding him not to mess with spiders or bad animals. His bad experience with some people makes him avoid them in the future so he learns to keep his distance from them but also deletes the memory of them later.

We are naturally attracted to people who are gentle, kind, trustworthy, helpful and friendly with empathy for others, generous, highly educated, with high moral values and with integrity. It is hard to find all these qualities in just one person but we are attracted to them if we find them. We try to emulate them because they become our moral compass and give us direction in life. He may be your parent or a teacher or a friend.

The brain retains good memories of them and deletes bad memories of people who were not our friends. I have lived and worked in many countries but I cannot recall the names of my coworkers in the projects because they did not become my friends. I did not keep in touch with them and soon forgot their names and faces but I still remember a taxi driver in Sheung Shui in Hong Kong who was so nice to me so long ago.

I do not remember who my classmates in college in California were but I remember the college president who became my mentor and helped me. I do not remember the names of my housemates who did not become my friends even after one year together living in the same house but I remember a gentle German who gave me a ride in Sicily so long ago and stayed with me in the campsite in Catania with a bottle of wine and talked to me for hours. I kept in touch with him for a long time.

So forgetting some people is a blessing and remembering good people is also a blessing. If you only care to write it all down in your memoir or in your blogs, people will be amazed to read your stories. I know that you are reading my blogs in more than 140 countries because you like to read my stories and about my experiences in many countries under difficult circumstances.

This way I give tribute to those good people in so many countries who helped me when I needed them and who extended their hands to me in their genuine friendship that I grasped eagerly. I cherish such good memories of them even today after so many years.

If you read my biography in the links given below, you will learn a lot about how I spent my years in so many countries and what challenges I had to overcome in order to reach my present age.

My brain has discarded the memories of bad people like old clothes that have no value but has retained the memories of the good people so that is a blessing. You too should cherish the friendship and good memories of all the good people in your life who have been your mentors, your teachers or your friends who stood by you when you needed them most.

Write about their good deeds if you are an aspiring writer. Tell others about them and set up scholarships in their name if you have money and want to preserve their memory forever. They deserve nothing less.

Let all the bad memories disappear from your mind like dark but fleeting clouds to let in the sunshine in your life.

Note : My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese languages at the following links as well as my biography. My blogs can be shared by anyone anytime in any social media.

les blogs en français.

Mis blogs en espagnol

Blogs von Anil in Deutsch

My blogs in Japanese

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Anil’s biography in English.

Biographie d’Anil en français

La biografía de anil en español.

Anil’s Biografie auf Deutsch

Anil’s biography in Japanese

Биография Анила по-русскиu