I have been quite good with the subject of history. And marks in school have been commendable. My mother as well studied history in college. And I’m still surprised by her memory of various dates and years that are special in history. You ask her the year of the battle of Plassey she has it in a second. Ask her the second battle of Pannipat she has it again in a trot. This was until a few years ago. I have not tested her faculty recently.
One of the best books on history that I read with the appetite of devouring a wonderfully crafted novel was Professor A.Sreedhara Menon’s “Kerala History”. The book was in Malayalam and I bought it a few decades ago from the Current Book house in Thiruvannathapuram, and I m now trying to recall from the reading then.
It was easy reading and one’s interest was kept alive through the reading. The inquisitiveness was teased throughout the book. Compare this to Romilla Thaper's books. I recently bought “Early India” and still have not covered much. Let me confess that I have no historical erudition to criticise or belittle Romila Thaper, and I m not indulging in that either.
The dawn of Christianity in Kerala, the Christians of Cannon who were given authority to settle in north of Cochin...... Professor Sreedhara Menon threw ample light into all those facets of early Kerala.
He details elsewhere in the book as to why and how households of Tamil Brahmins in Kerala and Tamilnad posses much gold in the form ancient jewellery . He attributed this to the fear of Moughal invasion of South India (Tamilnad). And as temples where then repositories of valuable metals and stones, the Brahmin priests where authorised to move the wealth from temples into their homes. Because the first place of attack and plunder by any marauding Muslim army were temples as they possessed much of the wealth of the kingdom. But the feared Moughal invasion did not take place, and the booty stayed with the Brahmin households.
History is written by the victor and only when a person with strong head, will, gut and spine who refuses to be pliable takes up to noting history like the late Professor Sreedhara Menon that people with academic interest and those of us impassioned about the past can relish history as a subject of research, fact finding and knowledge. Men with ideological leanings cannot truthfully document and judge history. They owe allegiance and have sold their conscience to the theory and ideology they profess. And in the process they wear blinkers and cannot be impartial judges, they can only be, as Professor Sreedhara Menon said ‘lawyers who collect materials to suit their theories’. And that is not history but a story.
It is typical of the communist psyche that the then communist government in Kerala declined to accept Professor Sreedhara Menon's book on freedom movement in Kerala because he refused to know tow the official version. If Kerala history where to be written by a communist it is anybody’s guess that it will be painted red, as it was done to the Punnapara uprising.
If history of Post Independence India has to be subjectively, and truthfully written for posterity it has to be by the likes of Professor Sreedhara Menon. Lest it will be history through the myopic and icteric eyes of a Congress man, a Hindu fanatic or a Red comrade.