Wednesday, July 11, 2007
On the subject of fight
All that talk about 'fight' in the Steve Waugh post reminded me about an old English lesson from CBSE class X prose. So I looked up the book from which the lesson was sourced. Class X CBSE English text was the best in the line of English text books that CBSE syllabus put out. Many lessons and poems, especially the lesson under question, majorly inspired me. The name of the lesson was 'In the Grip of Prejudice' - which is an excerpt from a book called 'To Sir With Love' by E.R.Braithewaite. The extent to which the particular paragraph quoted below impressed me is reflected by my enduring memory of that text book many years after I read it. I (think I) remember that English text book so well - Lesson 1 was 'The Gumdrop Affair' (The I-am-not-Addison-Barnaby-I-am-Frank-Guthrie story), Lesson 2 was 'In Celebration of Being Alive' (By Dr. Christian Barnard) and Lesson 3 was 'In the Grip of Prejudice', which was essentially chapter 5 of 'To Sir With Love'. It is an autobiography of a black man, an ex-army person, trying to get a job in London. He, in is his own words, is "too qualified for small jobs and too black for all the good jobs." During one of his despondent moods and strolls in Hyde park, a stranger in a park gives him the following advise on 'fight'. This advise changes Braithwaite's life. And if I am not mistaken, the 'Existence Vs Survival' came in the X Std Public exam in ERC.
"A great city is a battlefield. You need to be a fighter to live in it, not exist, mark you, live. Anybody can exist, dragging his soul around behind him like a worn-out coat; but living is different. It can be hard, but it can also be fun; there is so much going on all the time that's new and exciting"