Iwas late and hotfooting through the stairs of the university to my classroom. Though I was reasonably far I could hear my professor say, “The problem is that the majority of us don’t protest. We always wait for the heavens to intervene when a wrong happens.” The professor said that when he routinely digressed during his absorbing class on a Marxist interpretation of palace intrigue in Shakespearean plays.
He was talking of political protest, but in reality if some people hadn’t protested we would have still been living in a world where symbols would have formed the backbone of our literature, where man would have remained standing forever in the same place like trees do, where roofs above us would have remained unknown, where speed would have been a foreign concept to humanity and where there would have been no activity after sunset.
The first writer, the inventor of the wheel, the first architect and the first engineer turned civilisation on its head. We can’t deny that.
The word was its inventor’s protest against his inability to express his sorrows and joys. Speech was born. And it is such a wonderful thing.
The wheel was its creator’s answer to his tale of unhappiness with immobility. He refused to stay, like hills, in his original location. He knew there were many places and many humans who were to be seen and met. Travel was born.
The house was its founder’s well thought-through response to rain and thunder, which treated the exposed man like a fist of arid earth and stranded pebbles.
The electricity was its inventor’s story of his irrepressible desire to speed up life. Power was born. And that was followed by the bulb, an engineer’s hatred for darkness. The gramophone was the same engineer’s wish to hear people long after they are gone. Out came the record.
The great foundation for subsequent protests was laid by the above geniuses and the world never looked back.
The world of the words changed the way we thought and which changed everything because all wars begin in the mind.
When one read a Balzac or a Thomas Hardy novel one could hear years of cries in a word and centuries of sighs in a book.
The feeling didn’t change with a Fyodor Dostoevsky or a D.H. Lawrence work. In the former, the writer’s disgust with our social system, which he thinks is rigged against the hoi polloi and perhaps rightly so, is woven into the yarn of all his tales.
In the latter, one feels his ceaseless anger at man’s continuous struggle to suppress the real being within. His themes are a poetic hymn to the original man, the man who rigorously honours his deep-seated and well-settled desires and the man who refuses to travel in a man-made moral casket.
And then came travel, the beginning of what went on to become our society. Our universe grew as houses were created and for them were invented gadgets that converted life into a dream. But this talk about protest will remain hugely incomplete without our big thank you to the man who hit back at darkness with the bulb.
Therefore, let’s not keep quiet when we are expected to protest because the answer is always within us. We just discovered that.
HIS THEMES ARE A POETIC HYMN TO THE ORIGINAL MAN, THE MAN WHO RIGOROUSLY HONOURS HIS DEEP-SEATED AND WELL-SETTLED DESIRES AND THE MAN WHO REFUSES TO TRAVEL IN A MAN-MADE MORAL CASKET