Trite but true, life really is a journey. Each of us is the result of a unique set of experiences, for better or worse. We collect memories, as we do trinkets and things when we travel. Somewhere along the way, our baggage might begin to swell, to become a nuisance. We might not even remember what we’re carrying around. But we can’t let go. We’re attached to these things.
Brooklyn-based cartoonist Maki Naro has a webcomic called Sufficiently Remarkable which, he says, rests on the premise that coming of age is actually a perpetual state of being. He’s doing these supplementary stand alone mini-comics, delving into more personal dimensions of his characters’ lives. Memory is a young woman’s account of her grandmother’s struggle with dementia.
The two are not particularly close. But upon receiving news of her grandmother’s condition, Riti arranges a visit and finds her grandparents enduring a horrific and furious descent into the darker corners of consciousness. Riti likens her grandmother to a time traveler, and her memories to H.G. Wells’ monsters lurking in the darkness. “When you can’t remember how long you’ve been angry,” Riti muses, “when does it ever stop?”
Though Naro never explicitly reveals the root of the old woman’s resentment, her husband is most certainly the recipient. And while we readers find ourselves speculating about the hows and whys and these characters’ younger selves, Riti abruptly forsakes her grandmother, never to see her again.
Naro’s illustrations, graphic, yet still ethereal, speak to the nature of reality his story so eloquently exposes as permeable, flimsy, and fleeting. Fissures of light permeate darkness as trains emerge from tunnels and and pathways appear in Grandmother’s mind. Lights and darks, all diffused, fade in and out.
As the story unfolds, its density is laid bare. In just twelve pages, Sufficiently Remarkable Memory touches on so much of the human experience: the arrogance of youth, the ebb and flow of love and resentment, and the necessity of acceptance and forgiveness when all that’s certain is change.