I have low retentivity of things. This is something I have realised of late. Had the realisation been allowed to hit me earlier, my career choices and path might have been completely and totally different. Its not that I don't remember anything, or nothing stays with me, but its just that, for the life of me, I cannot retain what is in text books, or things I need to study or things that I don't take a liking to. Photographic memory is a long long shot away, but its the simple remembering things that I have read once, that I terribly lack. I do remember my Harry Potter stories well, or for that matter my Sidney Sheldons, but talk about chemical reactions, or the syntax of Java, and you will draw a pure blank out of me.
I know, its quite natural for us to retain what interests us, what matter to us, but the inability to absorb and retain the TCP/IP protocols, in one read just meant extra work for me during college, when the exams neared. And no matter how much I hate to admit it, mugging is what I had to eventually resort to in most cases. For even though I could understand things, I did not really remember them well, because it did not really matter to me. Fortunately mathematics, was not something that completely went out of my brain when I shut the book, else I would have been sitting and going the rote way on that too, like so many other friends, who literally mugged up their sums.
The reason, I write about this today, is because I was thinking about a teacher of mine from school, one who taught us social sciences, civics and economics to be precise. Pretty much everyone in school adored her, she was not a super friendly teacher, but she had a charm and panache about her. I so so wanted to be like her, in the years she taught me. In class 8, she taught us Civics. It was a fun subject, because it used our sensibilities, and she had interactive sessions in her classes. The subject was about society, and life in it. It spoke of educating women, children, reservations, need for population control and things like that. Most of it did not need text book teaching, and she taught us in a way which made us think. In those times, we had tests each Monday, which basically meant a non-existent weekend, and two days spent preparing for the most hated event of the school week. My education, school, scores, were pretty much the central character of existence in my family.There was little else I did, and little else, I was supposed to even think about. So these tests and their evaluations were more than mere face value at my place. Hence a hawk eye was maintained on me over the weekends to ensure I was studying hard enough. Strangely, this one Sunday we went to my aunt's place in the middle of the afternoon, and were there till late night. Mostly that meant I barely studied for the test on Monday. Fortunately it was a Civics test, that Monday, and not too surprisingly, I aced it, I was the top scorer of my class, which had supremely brilliant students, who have proven their academic worth much much better than me in life. And yet, I say, non-surprisingly here, because I simply enjoyed learning what the subject entailed. I did not need rote in this case. I could write a 25 point answer on 'Why Women In India Need To Be Educated?', without needing to memorise anything at all. Because I felt for the cause, and because it was something that touched my heart. So that basically meant, I could function my brain, but only when I enjoyed doing so.
However, the point remains, that my retentivity, for facts, figures, rules, equations and all things like that is abysmal, to put it lightly. I see that everyday. I read my camera manual, and forgot most functions, had to refer back to it quite a few times, to get how it worked, since the GP came up with pure hostility when requested to help.(His logic, learn it yourself.) If I read a book, that is not a story or a novel, its unlikely I will have even a bit of it registering my mind, once I put it down. The same goes with news articles, the once in a rare while I do go through them. And yet, somehow I have a head for figures, no not figures about the area of a country or population of a state, but about money spent, or the tax calculations, or other things related to money. Quite the money hungry sucker am I, isn't it?But why feign nonchalance, money definitely does matter to me.
At the end of the day, I believe I retain what interests me, or what matters to me. Very typically feminine, I never forgets events of incidents that I can use against the GP, in future wars. I remember most stories I have read till date. And yet I so envy the people who have a brain for the technical and the factual stuff. People who never forget the syntax of a programming language once they have learnt it, or chemical equations, or facts and figures they may have casually read somewhere, and can rattle it off anytime, anywhere. For the life of me, I can never remember these things. Thank dear God, my academic days are behind me, and I no longer need to retain what is completely mundane to me. Why is it not worthy enough, to remember stories or events or the grocery bill figure. Why can I not use them as a professional skill? And for all those of you, who can get it all in one read, here is me, expressing my unabashed admiration. And if you have a trick up your sleeve, please do share!