In the beginning, there was the world.
And the people were happy and had nothing to worry, as Barkha Dutt was not born yet. And then, calendars were invented. History periods began. Students got a genuine reason to bunk classes. Mornings shows in cinema halls became a cultural necessity. And some Vijay starrers could be stealthily shown to have run for 100 days as some obscure theatre had featured them in their morning slot, leading to a situation wherein some youths began to feel that history classes were comparatively sufferable.
Anyway, it is not impossible to come to the conclusion that human life would have been lot simpler and far easier had there been no invention of the calendar.
For starters, scoring marks in 10th standard exams would have been a cinch, as students would not have to remember when the hell did Stafford Cripps come to India and when on earth did the Minto Marley reforms unleashed. Students could actually write and get away with lines like: ‘well the Cripps chap arrived but the Gandhi guy wasn’t impressed’.
Still, why these things are deemed important is a historical secret. I know who Ghajini was —- a man with a strange name who spawned an even more strange screen character whose exclusive trait was that he was such a such dork that he couldn’t remember his own name —– and why the Crimean war was fought —- because reality shows were still to be conceived and they had nothing better to do than involve themselves in gory combat. But these information have not earned me a single extra paisa in life, nor the knowledge has conceivably made me a better human being. I cannot also imagine that the security guard in my residence holds me in higher esteem just because I happen to recollect some of the dates and years deemed to be historically important.
Without dates and years, history tomes, with no numbers to carry, will surely look slimmer than a visiting card. And history itself can be unfussily recorded. Like: India was a land of peace and the Vedas, which till date nobody has a clue to, and then there were a clutch of Panipet Battles and the Mughal invasion began, to be followed by the Brits, one midnight Jawaharlal Nehru and Edwina Mountbatten, okay India got freedom, and Madhu Koda made several thousands of crores of rupees by being a humble son of the soil. See in a few crisply conceived lines, we have elaborately covered the entirety of India’s broad history that otherwise would have taken pages more than A Raja’s crores to write.
No calendars also mean your grandfather cannot take off on his terminally tedious lines: ‘back in 1940, we walked 10 miles daily to school’. If he said that you can stump him by pointing out, ‘thatha, don’t blabber just because thathas are supposed to. Calendars aren’t invented yet. So 1940 will just mean the stupid way that railway authorities run their clock’. But this will not stop your granddad from constantly yabbering, for oldies like him are programmed by nature to gabble incessantly and incoherently to young people who find them irrelevant even in the best of times.
Furthermore, without calendars we wouldn’t age in numerical terms, and more importantly, there would be no birthday parties to throw or attend. Birthday dos and celebrations, if you get down to them, have caused more harm and destruction to the world than global warming possibly has.
Let us talk specifics here: Take the parties that zealous parents are wont to throw on the first birthday of their child. These are increasingly becoming shows in which more money and human effort are wasted than that was expended in fighting the First World War. And one look at the venue after such parties are over, you may actually come to the conclusion that the First World War had just been fought there.
Mankind has evolved and developed on so many fronts, but still it has not understood that ordering a 2 kg chocolate cake on a kid’s first birthday is criminally useless as children, at that age, find delicious only things that are carelessly strewn on the ground. Dirt, insects, wooden pieces, wastepaper are all gourmet items in Planet Child.
Try this quick experiment if you have a kid handily around: Place a scrumptious piece of some wonderful eatable and an equally crunchy portion of everyday household filth on the table. The child, if you observe carefully, will not touch both. Because, well, it is sleeping. Kids always snooze off when it is time for you feed them. They are timed to wake up and throw a racket only when you are utterly popped out.
Talking off popping out, these days it is mandatory, almost by a strict constitutional rule, to involve a ‘party-popper’ at birthday celebrations. Now you may wonder what is a party-popper. Quite simply, it is a small canister, with a turnable base, that ceremoniously guzzles out, with a festive pop, celebratory confetti, more classically defined in everyday terms as paper waste.
How this letting loose of tawdry and tinsel strips of showy paper amounts to sensible celebration of anything, will forever remain, like the mystery of Bermuda triangle, an unsolved conundrum.
Party-poppers are uncoiled at the precise moment when the cake is cut, and this is fine only if the whole purpose is to make the cake uneatable and the rest of the surroundings ‘uncleanable’. The beauty of the waste unleashed by party poppers is that they manage to get into the impossible crevices and nooks in any room and removing them is an exercise that has to be vigilantly attempted till the next birthday party.
I say this with the agonising authority of organizing several such parties over the years, including one last week, for my daughter. I will like to tell you more, but I have two urgent works to finish.
A house to clean.
And a daily-sheet calendar to strip.