For Bela, who was four years old, yesterday “was a receptacle for anything her mind stored,” writes Jhumpa Lahiri in her book The Lowland.

It contained “any experience or impression that had come before. Her memory was brief, its contents limited. Lacking chronology, randomly rearranged.”

Even though it had been many months since her hair was cut, she once announced, “I want short hair, like yesterday.”

Bela, at four, didn’t understand the concept of time. She didn’t yet understand the influence that all of the yesterdays of her grandparents, her parents and her uncle would have on her life.

Sometimes, when I wonder what’s happening to me today or why I am acting the way I do, I need to remember that all of my yesterdays may be crowding into my today.

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