At least I can comfort my self that yes; I did know that England at one point ruled India. Why, when and how is the bit I am not too sure on.
It is easy to throw my anger at my school, why did I not have a decent history lesson or a decent any lesson for that matter. Why was every class dominated by unruly pupils, the worst culprit being now quite big in the porn industry and the other culprits riding the benefit systems.
Its easy to blame the school and then I could blame the TV maybe they should stop running all these documentaries about forensic evidence of Christ and how a tennis racket is made and run something that might educate us Brits in something that happened not so long ago.
Exactly what did I learn in History? I cannot think of a single thing not one, vague recollections of medieval torture. I remember the great British plague and the great British fire every thing in history seams to be the Great British something. But what about the great British reign of India?
There have been hints of it as I grew up I guess, Mary Poppins for example, how the British economy was built on the East India Trading Company, Pirates of the Caribbean and also spotting Indian fabrics in stately homes.
I have a theory. Maybe what I did learn in history disturbed me so much I just blotted it out of my mind to protect my self from the cruelty of early Britain. I mean if having a king who killed his wife’s and divided religion even more wasn’t bad enough. But the truth is I have not had any formal lessons in any thing to do with the British Empire.
Recently a friend in India stated that that the Indians have a soft spot for the English because of the reign. It made me think. Why the soft spot? What on earth did we do except exploit recourses, labour and divide and rule with some devastating consequences. And of course shoot men, women children and tigers.
I guess there are always the trains, science and languages and it certainly made the stuffed animal collection grow in the Natural History museum, but really, was it worth it? To me it looks like the English came, wrecked, hung on for far too long and ran away with their tail between their legs.
I have not yet studied it fully and I know it will not be a pleasant learning, and what I have so far have found has made me feel uncomfortable being a Brit who is enjoying learning about Indian culture to find that possibly a late ancestor was overseas pinching ivory and exploiting the land and its people. Not a nice feeling.
My boyfriend is constantly reminding me of the fact that I am not Indian; I have never understood that until now, “of course I know I’m not Indian! what do you mean?” I ask him.
The rose tinted glasses have not slipped from my Indian closet, they are not firmly on my nose either, and however they have fallen off at my English one. And it has certainly stirred up some horrid memories from my school days!