Sunday, August 4, 2013

One day in the life of …


Fiction

“One day in the life of a residential school teacher,” I began writing the blog.

“What do you think you are?” asked my wife with marked irritation.  “Ivan Denisovich?”

Ivan Denisovich Shukhov is the protagonist of Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s novel, One Day in the Life Ivan Denisovich.  Ivan was a prisoner in a Stalinist labour camp in Russia.  The fellow was an innocent peasant, almost illiterate, and very simple.  The prison routine was meant to dehumanise the prisoners, but Ivan survived.  He survived because he found meaning in that absurdly oppressive life, a meaning found by living intensively.  He slogged like a slave and ate like a wolf.  When he worked on a brick wall he worked as though every inch of it belonged to him.  He was a Sisyphus without the spirit of rebellion.  He was proud of whatever he did.

“I’m Boxer,” I replied to my wife’s question.

“Who are you going to box?”  There was an almost visible sneer in her question which I ignored.

“I woke up this morning imagining that I am Boxer, the horse in George Orwell’s Animal Farm.”

“Oh, that creature who killed himself with hard toil and his two mottoes!”  She snickered, I think.

Motto number 1: I will work harder.
Motto number 2: Napoleon is always right.

Now, if you haven’t read Animal Farm you won’t understand this.  The animals rebelled against man (the capitalist) and set up a socialist system on the Farm.  Soon the pigs became the rulers.  Napoleon was the Boss.  Boxer was one of the many proletarian workers.

I wrote down the routine of the previous day which, I think, was responsible for the identity-loss-hallucination in the morning. 

5.30 am: wake up
7.00 am: at school
7.10 am to 2.00 pm: classes [with sponsored breakfast in between]
2.00 pm to 2.30 pm: lunch [sponsored]
2.30 pm to 4.00 pm: club activities
4.00 pm to 5.00 pm: games
5.00 pm to 6.00 pm: sit on your ass and catch up with the latest news on the TV or in the paper
6.00 pm to 8.00 pm: movie with students
8.00 pm to 8.30 pm: dinner [sponsored]
8.30 pm to 9.00 pm: time for farting out unwanted gas absorbed during the day
9.00 pm to 10.30 pm: counselling in hostel

Napoleon called a meeting of the animals.  “The windmill has been dynamited by Snowball and his suspended pigs.  There will be no power supply until we rebuild the mill.  It means two things: (1) You all have to work harder to erect a new windmill; and (2) until the new windmill is ready you all have to work harder overtime so that the works which were done by machines hitherto will not be hampered.  The meeting is dismissed so that you can start working.”

In the midnight when Boxer returned home and collapsed on his bed of dead leaves, his wife asked, “What will you wake up as tomorrow?”

“I’ll resurrect myself tomorrow.  I’m the architect of my world.”

35 comments:

  1. You are a weird animal! ha...ha...

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    1. Keep laughing, laughter is the best medicine, says the bourgeois magazine Reader's Digest :) :) :)

      I like the animal imagery. A few months back, I received a gift copy of a Malayalam novel that sold thousands of copies in Kerala (A Malayalam novel cannot hope to sell in millions). It is titled Aadujeevitham: Goatlife. It is about a pravasi Malayali ill-fated to live among bosses who dehumanise people into animals.

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  2. Wonderful post sir.. Since you manage to relate to a lot of things seamlessly, I find your posts very informative as well as entertaining

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    1. It is life that teaches me all these things, Adarsh. I must be grateful to life (without must-urbating too much).

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    2. It is life, and presumably the extensive reading you do too..

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    3. Dear Adarsh, for the sake of people who may misunderstand must-urbation, I should (or should I say 'must') add that must-urbation is a word coined by a psychologist for bossy people.

      I know you understand more... but for the sake of others!

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  3. Great read!
    Will come back for more.

    Thanks,
    Ranjana

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  4. I know how much fiction this is. Very recently I re-read animal farm and I can so understand this boxer feature. Its like he knows what good comes off rebel. In fact I am always inclined towards writing a post only on boxer, again it never happens I only plan.My hindu rate is still pending.

    Moving on, I will leave you with book's most famous lines, which is also the crux.

    "All animals are equal and some animals are more than equal"

    Richa

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    1. Richa, my favourite character in that book is Benjamin the donkey. He is the absolute cynic.

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  5. wonderful post sir...loved it..:)

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  6. I have read Animal Farm, sir. I can certainly see that the comparision seems to be apt.

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    1. Orwell wrote 'Animal Farm' in the tradition of fable to poke at Stalinism. But the name Napoleon implies the death knell of democratic spirit! Yes, Brendan. you understood it right.

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  7. This is wonderfully eccentric! New to your blog and already in love. :)

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    1. You are welcome here again and again, Priya. You can look forward to much greater eccentricity in the future :)

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  8. a very intellectual piece this is sir :) You have an amazing art of expressing your views beautifully. Hats off!

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    1. Thank you. I must attribute the credit to my school which is making me increasingly creative :)

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  9. The last line is so inspiring!

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    1. The last line belongs to the narrator and not Orwell's Boxer. Orwell's Boxer was a kind of fatalist who was resigned to the environment.

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  10. i haven't read farm animals but i have got the essence of the article in its profound meaning! yes the suspended are much better then us as we don't have time to stand and stare at this life which is so full of care

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    1. Leaving no time for you stand and stare is also a strategy!

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  11. thou i have not read the animal farm, i didnt find any difficulties understanding those acts .. lolz .. its been a while since i got a wicked laugh .. thanks Sir for this one :)

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    1. Wow! If I did extract a wicked laugh from you then I'm fulfilled. Thanks.

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  12. Loved your audacity! An enjoyable read.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Bushra. One of the primary functions of literature is enjoyment :)

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  13. There is always a highly intellectual edge to each of your posts with a sense of veiled cynicism concealed in a thick layer of humour. I loved reading the post.

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    1. Thanks, Kajal... Yeah, life seems to be making me a complicated person :)

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  14. I am always the Milkha Singh on your posts from the last .. nowadays.. well this post explains .. why I should be a reader of books :) .. still whatever the owl inside me says .. is this .. as usual you left it on reader's perception .. and I somehow got a lesson .. do whatever .. rather than .. criticizing and disliking do it with full heart .. eat whatever .. eat as if its best dish you have been served .. :) the Best Survival Strategy :)
    The Owl inside me says .. may be .. my intellect is no match to comment on your posts ,dear Sir.. but I should still comment to express I am learning .. how nicely you talk life.. :) Sir ji :)
    Do let me know sir,how does it feel dealing with the dumb boys on your blog :) :D

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    1. You're one of the smartest here, Jack. And I should add that I'm lucky to have you as a reader. Your comments let me know very bluntly how effective or ineffective my writing has been. Let me add that your owl is very wise indeed.

      Life has become quite an intriguing affair for me these days... But I have decided to take it in good spirit :)

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  15. I always get up in the morning feeling like a mule. At least you get as a boxer :)

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    1. If you love the mule, there's no problem, Pankti. It may be easier to love the Boxer but the demands are high.

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    2. I am happy being a mule. In fact, I find lot of sense in being a mule. However, people around me are always harping how they don't like me for being mule...What can I do but ignore them, I wonder! :)

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  16. Sir I had gone through your beautiful blog,it is really amazing. No weapon can be more sharp than words.this writing makes you different than others.You are really different and that is because of your thinking.

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