I recently noticed, with immense chagrin, that on days that I entered the supermarket hungry I spent almost €10 more than I did when I entered with a full tummy. This looking back through bank records led me down the road of casually looking back at a lot of bad decisions I have occasionally taken.
Fortunately for me, I have kept a diary on and off since I was 12 because with an internal monologue as loquacious as mine, I needed an outlet to be able to sleep with a modicum of inner peace. Occasionally I can use these “mini memoirs” to see how my personality has devolved from an overly sanctimonious child to a garden variety cynic. And they also suffice as a record of all the weird/ bad/ inexplicable decisions I have made in the past. Some are so regrettable and embarrassing that I wish I hadn’t written them down. Ideally, all my pens should’ve dried out and my diaries should’ve self-immolated to avoid ignominy.
A lot of my diary entries between 2011-2013 were either a result of being in love or being out of it. Hence the unending embarrassment. Be it the time (a year almost) of pining for a man I knew was into someone else (because he told me), to pining for another man who just happened to be nice to me, to pining for a guy who was dating someone else but lying about it. Whereas since November 2014, I have no such embarrassing diary entries because life has been much more settled. Also by then I moved to digital books and due to hard drive damage, all the files with the embarrassing events of the beginning of this relationship (and during) are permanently lost. We can now remember all the good stuff only through delightful anecdotal evidence,and eventually I’d be able to forget the embarrassing times when I used to sit and wait for him to come out of class after 5 pm then pretend to bump into him at times and nonchalantly hint about getting a chai and kachori.
This brings me to the reason why I think record keeping is important. It keeps you from repeating your bad decisions! Old sailors kept a record of everything…from the most mundane to the most adventurous stories. They probably were both supremely bored and somewhat aware of the fact that hindsight might find the events passed to be more relevant than they did in that moment.
This is why I am sure that our present government doesn’t like holding press conferences and talking about facts. What they say would become matter of permanent record that can’t be denied or blamed on opposition. They wouldn’t be able to refute the evidence of their own words.
I found it very interesting that when a word from the Prime Minister’s speech in the Parliament was expunged recently, it wasn’t considered an issue worthy of discussion. In fact, it is a common practice and this was not the first time in the parliamentary history that a part of someone’s speech has been edited/ removed for the purpose of maintaining “parliamentary language”. I still find it to be an Orwellian move. Shouldn’t the standards of parliamentary behaviour be always maintained by our elected leaders? And if they slip, shouldn’t it remain a matter of record so that we know of their regard or lack thereof for rules and appropriate conduct?
Looking back at the past 19 years, it seems like the world should’ve ceased to exist at the end of the millennia because since then things have regressed dramatically. Now I’m not saying that technological achievements should be negated and that nothing good has happened to us. However, the rise of right wing populism and the hate rhetoric has seemingly taken us back a few centuries to the time when the concept of identity and thus, unity, was limited to your immediate clansmen. World leaders like Trump, Modi, Bolsonaro, Johnson, among others are mere beneficiaries of the times not the original instigators of this unrest.
Everyone takes some wrong turns in life that land us in trouble and remembering our past or better yet, regularly reading back through the records about our past mistakes is bound to make us smarter. Although an excess of remembering might land us in trouble…like that Jodie Whittaker episode of Black Mirror. I actually have pages in my diary where I’ve written, “something disturbing happened but it’s unlikely to matter in a few days so I will not write it down because I don’t want to relive it while reading the diary and anyway this incident is best forgotten”. I was right, because I have absolutely no recollection of what it was and it clearly didn’t affect me in the long term. Most likely it was something to do with a heartbreak over one of the many “boy troubles”. I guess I am now faltering on my own argument of learning from your bad decisions.
It’s just that the world needs a good mix of the revision of their own history and a bit of revisionism of their history.