“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.”