Today's an exception though. For some reason, the concentration is unflagging.
Perhaps because some albums, particular pieces of music, bring up sharp, distinct memories, strong enough to assault you. Memories that make you take five minutes off from work to remember and laugh, send a quick email to people associated with the picture in your mind, and then return peacefully to work.
This particular album is one of those... the first time I heard Peter Gabriel was at my friend T's house. T was a year senior to me in college, and given that I attended college once in a blue moon (at my viva, I was asked, "are you sure you belong to this class?" - and I can tell you it was tempting to say, "No, sorry, my mistake," and walk right out of there - which, in light of the carnage that followed, might have been the intelligent thing to do), it was a wonder that we became friends... but we did. Right from my first day at college, when he singled me out from the others being subjected to somwewhat un-inspired ragging, to make me treat him to a coffee and smoke.
T lived reasonably close to college, and on winter afternoons, when the desire for some good music pushed the desire not to attend classes over the tip of the scales, we'd go back to his place to listen to generations of rock, drink hot, sweet tea, sneak smokes on his balcony (conveniently hidden from view by large-leafed trees) and talk about life. (Mostly, since he had an inconveniently good memory, we'd discuss my exploits, which he'd drag up at every opportunity, and I'd rue the day I'd ever told him about... but that's another story.)
T and I haven't met too often since we left college - we've been playing the "gechho dada" game for too long. So, when I was in Bombay, T was in Cal. When T moved to Bombay, I moved to Kozhikode. When I finally moved back to Bombay, T moved back to Cal. And so on.
T's not much of a talker on the phone either, so we haven't spoken much over the years. But each time we've met, after we've shared a drink and a smoke and updated each other on our lives and the new music we've discovered, T's managed to dredge up, from the depths of my chequered past, incidents that even I don't remember, incidents that I've then spent years erasing from my memory.
Until I meet T again, that is. Even when they remember things about you that you'd rather not - or, who knows, perhaps precisely for that reason - thank god for old friends.