In all the times one is under deep emotional and spiritual duress, one feels irrevocably attached to certain people. As if misery were some sort of brotherhood held together by common predicaments. This brotherhood allows you the unlikeliest and most surprising company. And so it is, today, in a moment of spellbinding epiphany, I realize that holding my hand in this universal, timeless, not-so-secret society is…
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On a bright sunny day in 1940, the late revolutionary hobbled up to the window of his room in an alien land, looked at the skies (that were blue), the grass(which was green) and noticed sunlight which was (oh my god!) "Everywhere" and declared with upbeat poignancy: Life Is Beautiful.
Now, Now, don’t go off and dwell over how true Trotsky’s words are, how sublime everything really is, and how we’re missing out on it all, because that potentially flawed statement must be given some fair thought.
You see, when the late Marxist said these words he was, incidentally,nearing his end. Health and life in general had painted him into a corner. His erstwhile allies were plotting his end. His heart was spluttering through each beat and to put it simply, he was dying.
With Mortality staring him in the face, everything about ‘life’ naturally seemed extraordinarily alluring. Today, I clutch my heart and say silently, Comrade Trotsky, I know EXACTLY how you felt back then.
I zombie-walk up to the TV which is playing movies that I’ve always wanted to watch, stare at the bookshelf tempting me with books I’d saved for ‘later’. Think about brilliant story ideas I’d not followed up on; even give a thought to that The Distinctions and Influences in Early Impressionist Art lecture that I’m dying to attend, shrug dejectedly, and think: Life is, but, Beautiful.
(If only, I had one…)
Akin to Trotsky’s impending death, the student clan is afflicted by a similar scourge (maybe worse?) called Exams. Every one of us can list a dozen things we’d rather be doing at this time than cram reams and reams of inconsequential (trust me) text. Once every while, we take time out to muse over the significance of what we’re studying and then return to cramming some more after having found a definite answer-Naught.
The university has amazing ways of making us look at the brighter side of things. While for Trotsky, his wife Natalia took off the blinds so he could get a better look at the beautiful world outside, we have a symbolic equivalent- Practical Exams- the action packed adventure of simulating the same programs/designs that we’ve done through the semester in a nerve-racking three hour exam. One session is enough for us to beg for normal, exam-free life.
The objective of the process, in my ever-so-humble opinion, is to reinforce faith in The Uncertainty Principle. This is best related in the words of the head-honcho(HH) of a multi-national tech-giant who will through this tirade remain unnamed. The man in question spoke at a gathering of all the prayers he offered during his lab exams some ten years ago. Now HH, who had to be something of a technical genius to be made the Technology Head at this Bigshot Organisation, quivered with fear when he thought of these exercises in terror. Think, then, of the fate of us minions.
"Anything can go wrong. Your ICs might have burned off; wires might have ruptured; the signal generators might not be working. There may be a bug in the compiler…" he lowered his voice and said, with touches of malice, like he was the villain from a Charles Dickens novel "…And you shall never know".
HH went on to work on virtual-simulation software that now rakes in millions for his Bigshot Organisation. The software-package is a substitute for real electrical experiments, leaving no room for horrific accidents such as burned ICs and unknown emergencies. I can tell with considerable faith that the "Help" application in the software was inspired by HH’s alma mater’s department lab assistant. A man whose happiness and good health is prayed for by legions of engineering students.
At the ‘lab exams’ we also go through Stasi-like interrogative procedures, called, innocuously enough, Viva Voce. Volumes can be written about its mechanisms. So, I shall refrain. Like the German Secret Police’s intentions, every External Examiner aims for the same "break-down" that was the hallmark of intense questioning.
Exam time, unlike death, is not the time for Philosophical ruminations. Trotsky, after all, had said all that he had to say about political theory. The end was the proper time for ‘the deeper meaning of things’ After all, Trotsky did not have to study Data Structures.
Ergo, every day is a compulsory struggle of choice. A choice such as this one:
(Most of us take a leaf off our Microprocessors textbooks and work from the top of the stack. Wish us Luck.)
Our man Trotsky did not stop simply at marveling at life. Even in the twilight of all good things, he did not abandon hope:
"Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full" he had said of beautiful, beautiful life.
It should bother him that the future generations are close to his thoughts in a way he hadn’t quite hoped for. The future generations are in a bind similar to his. Forgive us Comrade Trotsky. We have failed(gulp!) you. ⊕