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My Earliest Memories

The first objects and people, tastes, sounds and dreams I can remember.

My earliest memories go back to the time when I was two or three years old. The first thing I can recall is a vague, indescribable sensation that I later associated with my conscience. The best way to describe it is a huge tasteless and shapeless sea I carried inside, the virtual space where all the future shapes and concepts were going to be formed.

The first objects: My toys. The plastic bear in a pushchair. A white rubber puppy seal with a red ball on its nose. A little doll dressed in red – later my mother said it was Little Red Riding Hood. A clown lifting weights. A Chinese cyclist on batteries (my dad’s favourite). Those toys do no longer exist. Or if they do, I don’t own them anymore.

What happened to them? The bear in a pushchair: I threw it out of the window of our second floor apartment. By the time I went down to get it, it had already gone. The puppy seal (a lovely toy): I lost it on a snowy winter day. I took it with me on a sleigh ride with my mother. By the time we returned home, we realized it had mysteriously gone.

The first sounds: My mother’s high heels on the pavement – music to my ears. The fairy tales on my old vinyl disks – ‘Puss in Boots’ and ‘Diamonds and Toads’. My father’s voice singing old folk songs. The sound made by the clown when he was lifting weights – a horrible crunch. My father trying to teach me to say 'r'. A dull, repetitive sound I kept hearing in my ears after going to bed. Later I found out it was my own heart.

The first people: My mother gently rubbing my forehead when I was lying in bed with fever. My father letting me walk on his back –a good massage for his rheumatism, he thought. The two little girls next door. The younger so sweet, the elder a monster – she used to terrorize both me and her sister. The nurse coming in to give me penicillin injections.

The first tastes: the rubber taste of the teat – one day I suddenly decided I hated it. Semolina pudding. Spinach. Effervescent Vitamin C.

The first book: “Mother and child”, a huge book with red hard covers – a guide for young mothers.

The first nightmare: a man with a black hat trying to break in.

And many, many more – but I will stop here before I get too carried away. The one thing they all have in common is that they arose from the same shapeless sea... If I asked myself how much that sea had changed over the years, it would be very hard to answer. I can still feel it inside, the way it was then, but I can’t tell whether it belongs to the present or to the past, whether it is still there or it's just the memory of it haunting me from times long gone.

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