I remember how I was introduced to Samir. “This is Samir,” my friend Maya said. “He’s forgotten more than most people know. By tomorrow, he’ll forget the rest as well.”
“I’m not forgetful,” Samir said as he extended a hand. “I’m just differently memoried.”
I wouldn’t say it was love at first sight, but it was close. His scruffy bearded face was made endearing by his bright, eager eyes and the soft mouth, which had a perpetual smile playing on it. By the end of the evening, we’d had a little fumble behind the bushes, and the next day, I got a shy voice message from him. As voice messages go, it was odd. Samir called, and then asked me to listen to a recording. It said he liked me, and if I was open to it, he’d like to meet some more and see if we could get used to each other’s idiosyncrasies.
As I soon found out, that was a euphemism. I had idiosyncrasies. Samir was borderline weird.
During the day, he would plow through dozens of books on almost anything he found interesting. He’d conduct experiments – some of them hair-raising – and in the evening, over take-out food, he’d tell me what he had learned. And he would continue telling me about it well into other activities. At times, with my mouth otherwise occupied, I had to slap him on the butt to make him stop talking.
The next morning, I’d wake up to find the room in a mess, the previous day’s notebooks all spread out on the floor, and Samir hunched over them, crying because he couldn’t remember nor understand what he’d managed to create. He would try, but he’d reach somewhere completely new, and he’d be exhausted and disheartened.
Apparently he’d had a dozen papers published in journals that he himself couldn’t understand anymore. I’d gently pull him back to bed and try to make him forget. That he did anyway, but I like to think I helped.