There’s this look I get from my friends- a straight face, looking dead straight into my eyes, not a hint of happiness or sadness in this gesture but certainly some pinches of anger- there are only two occasions when I see this reaction- when I tell them I don’t like pizza and when I tell them I love history. I can sense many
of you giving that same look to the screen you’re reading this blog on.
The pizza part is relatively easier to handle as I tell them I’m sick and won’t be able to have a slice, but history… That’s something that comes out itself, without my knowledge.
Recently, I had my history exam at school and the kids around me were literally freaking out and there I was trying to figure out why this was so…
Before I say anything further I must admit I’m writing this piece solely for those classmates of mine, to change their reactions from the next time I talk to them about this topic, because I don’t know if I’d ever be able to communicate these thoughts to them directly anytime soon.
So, coming back to the exam, seeing the situation I rewinded my life and went back one year in the history and remembered the Facebook post that I had made about the same topic, almost around the same time of the year.
But now I’ve changed my school, I’ve got a different story and I’ve got different friends, so this one is for them. But more than anything else, Facebook has become obsolete for the younger generation now, so there’s no better way than this!
So… why history? Why should anyone in this world study history?
Because who you are is because of history. The way you are, the way you behave, the way you act, the way you react, the way you dress, the way you express, it’s all because of history!
Okay, let’s be more specific. Why do people living in the urban areas of India wear shirts and jeans? It’s because a few centuries ago India was a British colony and they shaped the country the way they wanted it to be like and the people were moulded in the same way. The attraction towards speaking English, perhaps, has the same roots. Like it is said, ‘Angrez chale gaye lekin, hangover chod gaye’ (TRANSLATION: The British went but, left their hangover).
History helps us understand the context behind a thing being a certain way. Many things that we see around us are because the world was a very different place than what we see now, and those things would seem vague or unnecessary to us unless we study the historical context behind them.
But then the question arises how am I supposed to study history? When I study history it feels as if hundreds of facts, numerous dates, countless locations on the map and names of loads of historians, etc are thrown at me.
But wait… ‘Why so serious?’
Do you like stories? Sorry, wrong question, everyone likes stories. the question should be: how much do you like stories? Just like you I too am big on stories, so history is like a story for me. There are characters in the history book who are having an adventure in the world where none of us were alive and I am excited just by the thought of it. So the text in the history book is like the text in a historical fiction book and this helps me understand the landscape of that time better.
Earlier I even used to create a proper story but now I don’t have to do all that, it’s all in my head and it happens automatically. It becomes far easier to follow a story than to read different incidents which happened in the past. Whenever you read a story or listen to a story you immediately get attracted to it, you don’t have to focus.
And if you look closely you would find that there is a story in the word history: HISTORY. So if you don’t want to believe me that history is like a story, at least shower some respect on the person who decided to call history as ‘history’!
We can teach ourselves by making up some fictional stories with a backdrop of historical events given in our history textbooks. And remember, there is a storyteller sitting inside each of us waiting to be discovered!
Now as I am editing this blog I am realizing that there is no point at which I have answered what is given in the title but maybe people would come here looking for the reason and go away with a solution to the problem!