History in retrospect


Events become important only in retrospect. When they happen, we gloss over them as though it was a normal event. I am sure everyone would be able to remember that most of the landmark events in their lives passed by just like any other normal event.

I  remember watching  the movie ‘20000 leagues under the sea’, particularly the last narrative over the sinking of the submarine Nautilus: “ All good things must come to an end.” But the end is usually not as spectacular in most cases.

After my seventh grade school in a village, our family moved to a bigger city. I still remember my friend asking me: “When will we meet again?”

I had stopped my bike in front of his house to talk to Saji. He was out in front of his house with a melancholic smile.

“Of course, I would come again, and I would be riding my bike just like this again.”

That was a foolish statement indeed and I knew it. But I was expressing my hope. The fact is that I haven’t met him ever since for the last nearly three decades. I know that he is in the USA, but I don’t know much more.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated in Sarajevo eventually led to the World War I.  When Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire in protest against Tunisian government harassment, little did he realize that he was setting in motion a revolution that would overthrow the government.  These are relatively small incidents that assumed enormous proportions in hindsight after much bigger events followed.

When Louis Riel was executed in 1885 at the age of 41, he didn’t die a hero. I had the chance to visit St. Boniface museum on the Louis Riel day. Out of many artifacts, a  handwritten  letter in red ink piqued  my interest. It read: “Either – a rope for Louis Riel or a bullet for Bishop Tache.” At once my imagination took me to the year 1885 and the face of Bishop  turning pale on reading that very letter which I was looking at!  Although the Metis regarded him as a hero, he died a miserable death. He has become a legend in retrospect.

I have read that when the great Shakespeare died, he was little aware of the celebrity he was going to become! What a poor predicament for history makers.

What are your personal experiences with events in your life? Were you aware of the significance of those events when they played out?


One response »

  1. Hi Alex and congrats on your new blog.

    I am one who lives in the moment – in the now – so I don’t usually realize the significance of an event right at that moment. And I am not sentimental, so I don’t often look back. I like to look forward.

    I enjoyed your paragraph about Louis Riel. It’s amazing how someone who was hung for treason is now celebrated as a hero. I guess it’s all about interpretation, and those back in 1885 certainly interpreted the events of the day far differently than their contemporary counterparts.

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