We all know how History works. I don't have to reiterate it. Memories of our yesteryear selves burning the midnight oil and slouching over that thick book in vain attempts to 'learn' why Asoka planted trees and how Akbar delivered justice, hardly leave the reminiscent mind.
What more do I have to add? - well, just that all is well; Asoka continues to be planting trees and Akbar continues to efficiently administer justice happily in the textbooks. I know. I just checked. My History exam got over yesterday.
A couple of days back, we were given over twenty-two PDF files to prepare for, each with no less than 10 or 11 pages. Together, they must have spanned over 6000 years of history. 6000 years to breeze through in two days. Ah! Paradise!
So, that is how it went - two days of stress and turmoil. Funny, how even after 16 years into the system, I continue to be irked by its most basic tenet - Exams. Interestingly, even after I knew that I had crossed the 'I-am-gonna-fail' point, I continued to bite my nails. And I wondered "What is the big deal? I will surely pass this one. These marks are not a big deal for the media industry. So what am I anxious about? What is there to lose?"
It then sank in me that I have only to lose. Having performed well so far, any huge regression will be perceived a 'drop' in the graph to turn on the keenly judgmental instincts of the human mind. "What happened to her? Has she gotten distracted this semester? She has been fooling around too much recently. Maybe something is bothering her."
No one cares about those who have always shown consistency with being 'average'. They might even be seen as the intelligent ones who are playful, creative and too hyperactive and fun to be preparing for hours for an exam. But the rest - oh, our auto-monitor is on for them, tuned-in. A single downfall concludes that something must have gone terribly wrong with their lives and skills.
In reality, perhaps they just didn't care enough for this test. Going by that logic then, the attitude of being nonchalant before an exam is seen as unacceptable for someone who was labelled under the glorious ranks of 'responsible', 'sincere' and 'hard-working'. Yes, these are the 'good' tags and anything that made you shun them are not positive signs to be appreciated. Once good, always to continue. Success is the biggest liability that even befell one.
You might ask why I am bothered. Easy, I am not Buddha yet. And when a few souls back home subscribe to these kind of views, there comes in the guilt factor too, remember.
So lets face it - the civilization values success, values victory. Anyone who doesn't seem to care for them is surely demented. Glancing down at the book, flooded with these thoughts, it struck me that the pages I was staring down at, had all along been reinforcing the same thing too.
Who are the ones who continue to be prominent in History textbooks? A few empathetic ones, yes. A few talented ones, yes. But for the large part of it - the powerful ones. The kings who conquered the most, the ones who had the largest empires, the ones who waged the most successful wars. The others who failed - well, they simply failed. Blaady weaklings I say! History is simply too sensitive to weakness and downfall to care for them. I am sure Dhoni and his men will agree to that, the way we ping-pong them for every slouch.
One slide in the course went -
"•Jalāl-ud-dīn Fīrūz was the first of the Khaljī rulers, who proved to be too mild to hold his power.
•His ambitious nephew Alāuddīn Khaljī was the next ruler."
The second statement was then succeeded by many lines on the Alauddin fellow. And I thought, damn, what a disgrace! Thank god the Jalal-ud-din guy is dead! I cringe to think how he would have felt had he seen this. Just one line for his life? Of course, he was too 'mild'. So, if you were someone who was not interested in power, who did not like mainstream attention or simply wanted to spend life reading books, you are not worth being remembered in future. The blood-thirsty ones, the power hungry ones - whoa, they are the players baby!
The actress who gained weight is a failure. The entrepreneur who sold his venture off is a failure. The man who is jobless and sitting at home or the blogger who suddenly couldn't continue blogging join the league too. In every case, we assume that they tried and couldn't keep up. It is not an option that they could have simply grown past it and went for something better. So, beg, bribe, kill, take drugs - it doesn't matter. Somehow manage but show the results when judgment day comes. At least that is what seems to be its moral.
History yells coldly - "Show me the proof dammit! Leave your marks. Only then do you matter." The question is, do we really want to matter? It pains me to realize that the world around leaves little choice for that answer.