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Chapter 21: I Am a Man Who Hopes against Hope

Genghis Khan was one of the greatest emperors ever. He ruled from one corner of Asia to the opposite corner of Europe; both the continents were under his thumb. He was called “The Great Khan.” But now, if you look in the history of the world, you will find his name referred to in some footnote. History will become bigger sooner or later. First you slip into the footnotes, then you start disappearing from the footnotes. Leaving your name in the history books is like writing your name on the sand.

One of my teachers, a history teacher, used to say again and again, and this has been said to almost everybody: “Leave your name in the pages of history. Write your name in golden letters. You should leave your mark that you have been here.”

The first day I entered his class.of course the first day the teacher is at his best. He tries hard to impress, because the first impression is a lasting impression. So he was at his peak - not speaking but thundering. I could not tolerate it when he said, “You have to leave your name in history, it has to be written in golden letters. You have to make a mark that you have been here.”

I stood up and I said, “You are shouting too loudly - and only forty students are here. Are you leaving your mark on the walls of this classroom, or on the tables and chairs? You are thundering as if you are addressing a meeting of at least ten thousand people. And can I ask a few things?

“One thing, I have never seen any history book written in golden letters. So of all those who have lived up to now, nobody has been able to write his name in golden letters. Are you proposing that, for me especially, a book will be written in golden letters? And even if it is written in golden letters, I will not be here to see it; so what is the point, whether my name is written in it or not?

“In fact, when I came into this world I had no name. The name is given to me; the name is just arbitrary, it is not mine. So whether it is written in the history book or not does not matter.

“Secondly, you are saying, ‘Leave your mark here, to prove that you have been here.’ You are talking just like a dog.”

He said, “What!”

I said, “Yes - because dogs leave their mark wherever they are. They raise one of their legs up and leave their mark there. And when I am saying that, I am simply stating a biological fact. You can ask the scientists why the dog does that. He leaves his mark: ‘I have been here and this is my territory.’ Pissing is golden. He is making history.”

But all the politicians are doing that, pissing and thinking that they are leaving golden marks. Yes, pissing is a little yellow but I cannot say it is golden, that would be exaggerating. And all that the dog is leaving as his mark, and making as a declaration to existence, is that “This is my territory” - it stinks!

I said to him, “The whole of history stinks, and all your politicians simply stink. You please just stop thundering and stop telling us nonsense. You just start the story of all the idiots of the past. And please forgive us for not being added to that list.”

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