A mesmerizing tapestry made of the strands of memory, matter, and death is carefully woven into the depths of our existence. According to memory expert Elizabeth Loftus, our bare existence depends on this elusive ability. Our memories shape us and create strong bonds with other people and places. However, despite our palpable presence, people have the unsettling capacity to vanish, passing into a hidden realm beyond the veil of death. What persists are the artifacts that were once touched by them, becoming containers that preserve memories and arouse flashbacks, as Malhotra brilliantly explained in her seminal book, "Partition of Separation." Malhotra wrote in her book that “Memorialization is not a passive practice but an active conversation,” which can only be sustained if the conversation remains in motion. The best way to do just that is to have conversations, preserve those conversations, and strictly mention that memorialization is not the Truth about a person but merely many truths in the form of perceptions. Death is not an uncomplicated experience. It is connected with horror, fear, sadness, numbness— all the experiences that possess the power to hammer the memories. And as Malhotra has written and practiced, it is vital to ask about what one remembers before it’s gone or modified unconsciously and unknowingly.
Human memory is difficult to access because it is erratic, defies consistency, and resembles the ever-changing Wikipedia pages. Our memories are reconstructive, making them more than just a simple recording mechanism. Our memories can be altered by outside factors, much like the virtual encyclopaedia can be revised and shaped by many hands. Malhotra explores the durability of material culture, but it is crucial to identify the different strategies used in our project. In contrast to Malhotra, who gleaned insights from the owners of personal property, our approach entails following memory traces in an effort to discover a person's true nature through the memories of others. We must, however, come to grips with the fact that experiences do not amount to an unchanging reality. According to Andrew Jones, memories form through our subjective encounters. We cannot, however, assume that the opinions of the owner's friends and family are unblemished because life's ups and downs invariably leave their permanent imprints.
"Memorialization is not a passive practice but an active conversation," asserts Malhotra, underscoring the necessity for ongoing dialogue to sustain its vitality. It is within this context that our project comes to life, weaving together conversations, preserving their essence, and acknowledging that memorialization does not encapsulate the ultimate Truth about a person but rather encompasses a tapestry of perceptions. Death, with all its intricate facets, intertwines with horror, fear, sorrow, and numbness, hammering at the very foundations of memory. As Malhotra astutely points out, it is imperative to inquire about what we remember before it slips away or undergoes unconscious, unwitting modifications.
Elisabeth Kübler Ross, the pioneering figure behind the identification of the first five stages of grief, unveiled a framework aimed at fostering empathy toward those grappling with loss. Decades later, David Kessler, alongside Ross, delved deeper into the realm of human psychology, introducing the sixth stage of grief—closure. Kessler posits that individuals often seek closure, traversing the stages of grief to transform their sorrow into a more serene experience. However, this research challenges the notion of closure as the final stage, revealing it to be an open-ended chapter characterized by intangible sentiments closely akin to the fifth stage of acceptance. Memories, as explored previously, are fallible and subject to modification.
Malhotra suggests that, at times, humans unwittingly transfer memories into alternative vessels, such as inanimate objects. The swift and chaotic upheaval of the 2020 pandemic serves as a haunting backdrop, with a staggering 4,907,991 lives lost worldwide, each with their own personal stories and objects that once held significance. As Malhotra eloquently notes, these objects often become catalysts for memory, triggers that transport us to the past. This research contends that preserving these objects embodies the sixth stage of grief, transforming the intangible into a tangible form, impervious to malleability.