Have you ever come across a familiar face but for a few precious seconds you couldn’t figure out where you had seen the person? Or how you knew him?
Well, it happened to me a week ago. Friday to be specific. I had passed by Two Rivers Mall in Ruaka to buy something a friend had assured me I would get in one of the shops. I was in the process of inspecting what I was about to purchase when a very familiar-looking man walked into the shop with a woman who did not look familiar. He had one of those hats that tourists like to wear to protect themselves from the sun when they visit our game parks and beaches. I could, however, still tell that I had seen him several times in the recent past.
I have written here before that I sometimes have difficulty recalling faces and names, a weakness that prompts some to assume that I am standoffish.
With this in mind, I stared at the man, determined to remember exactly how we knew each other. He must have felt my stare because he turned and looked at me. And then immediately looked away. It is then that I recalled where I had seen the man and how I knew him too. The man was Joseph Kori, who had been released from police custody the previous day.
Of course, the reason he looked very familiar is because I had been seeing his photograph in the papers every day for weeks. I am glad he looked away immediately before I broke into a smile and stretched out my hand for a handshake, otherwise he would have concluded that I was a fan.
I have been thinking of this incident and it occurred to me that this shortcoming, that of a poor memory, is a very dangerous thing to have. I have a very fertile imagination, so bear with me.
Imagine, for instance, me approaching a Matheri type of person, (you must remember Bernard Matheri, the notorious criminal that was killed by police back in 2007) and saying hello, convinced that we know each other. Unknown to me, police are trailing this Matheri type, ready to pounce on him and any associates that might be in his company, at the opportune moment. Unfortunately, the police decide that the opportune moment is the point at which I decide to approach the Matheri type. How, pray, do you explain yourself out of such a situation?
I can imagine being interrogated by the police and trying to defend myself saying that the only reason I was talking to a most wanted criminal is because he looked familiar. I get the feeling that even the police, who have probably seen and heard it all, would be taken aback by the originality of my statement. No, there’s no way such an explanation would hold water.
The following day, Kenyans on social media would have a field day making fun of my peculiar statement to the police, which, thinking about it, would also sound comical, it would produce hilarious memes — I say this because I imagine that the nabbing of a most wanted criminal would be big news, which would be widely reported in the media.
This scenario traumatised me so much, I have decided to work on my poor memory — it turns out that I can actually overcome this shortcoming — I stumbled on a talk by someone called Jim Kwik, who describes himself as a world expert in speed-reading, memory improvement and optimal brain performance.
According to him, if you say that you have a poor memory or that you have a problem remembering names, you will have a poor memory and you will not remember names. I am determined not be thrown in prison with a most wanted criminal, so I plan to do whatever it takes to improve my memory.
The writer is Editor, My Network magazine, in the Daily Nation [email protected]