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History is perceived as a record of past events. However, whatever is chronicled could be a fact or could be fiction.As Napoleon Bonaparte had once said, "What is history, but a fable agreed upon?".

History, essentially in its widest context, is the totality of past events, with a thought provoking proviso, if I may add, of "Known past". The written record of human lives and societies of the past, with an attempt to interpret it, is historiography. By its very nature, history perhaps is most difficult to be defined with precision. Any attempt to uncover past events and thence to formulate an intelligible account of it, is almost impossible without the adulteration of personal view of things, people, places and events.

The Father of History is considered to be Herodotus, who in the 5th century BC wrote his illustrative account of the Persian wars.Historiography has been of keen interest to Chinese; hence of all Nations in the world, China has the longest and most voluminous record of its past. Reading and writing history was always an integral part of Chinese learning and it still continues to be.

Who writes history? The victor or the vanquished. If the vanquished is totally obliterated then there is no likelihood of knowing their version of history, but if remnants of the defeated survive, we can expect to see another view of the same event, albeit it cannot be totally shunned of bias and prejudice. Hence, we get to read History, as described by the victors. We never read about the bravery of the German Nation during World War-II; however, we get an overdose of how inhuman, the then Germans were.

The Warrior King of India, Rana Sangha, after losing the battle against Jalauddin Akbar, is purported to have been captured alive, with 85 lethal wounds on his physical self - and presented before Emperor Akbar, he was asked pompously and haughtilyby Akbar as to "how he expected to be treated?. Rana Sangha is reported to have said, "as a King, should be treated". In a similar vein and context, in his seventeenth and last expedition to Somnath Temple, Mahmud of Ghaznavi is attributed in history to have said, in response to being gifted with gold and riches by the priests of the temple, "I would like to be remembered not as idol, worshipper, but an idol breaker". When at school, these remarks fascinated me, but today with some decades added, I think it could be very well be the result of some 'compliant historian' of the victors;who must have surely received a few worldly gains from Akbar and Mahmud to develop such heart-warming conversations! The many dialogues in history may be pure verbosity. The recording of events, based on facts or on fiction or hearsay and folklore can be the result of a highly fertile imaginative mind. The checklist to mandating a data for research remains inadequate. There are hence, so varied distortions in history.

The history of the creation of Bangladesh is a recent case in point. I am witness to the history of surrender at Dhaka - I watched it on PTV. It was telecast once with the 6:00pm English News and never again! Yet today's text books essentially deny, by either expression or exclusion and twist the episode to serve a time bound agenda.

Being fond of reading I recall vividly the events that lead to the secession of East Pakistan, but on examination of the books written on the subject, by people (pseudo-historians) on both sides of the fence, I have become witness and approver of how easily "historians" distort history; distortion beyond recognition. The original event is entombed in the mind, while the fabricated version, has become the recorded and valid history. Even the book aptly titled "Witness to Surrender" carries details about the event, on not how they happened, but how the writerwould have liked them to happen.

Can history be refuted? And who will?"If you don't know history, then you don't know anything. You are a leaf that doesn't know it is part of a tree" (Michael Crichton).The rebuttal can happen only if it is challenged and reduced to writing, closest to the event. Delays in recording givesaway to interpretation; otherwise its potential is to be the truest - a balanced view. But Cynics will observe and say, it is too early to judge and hence the recorded history is clouded by a personal position on the subject matter.

History is neither compensatory for enduring it or even an expiation for wrongs committed. History is but bio-graphy of men; and largely it is biographies that form the main body of history. Many auto-biographies are narration of dreams unfulfilled in reality but achieved only in memoirs. History can therefore be classified essentially to be storytelling and it is upto the narrator to make it interesting with his bit of 'spice' or make it boring with 'truthful facts'. Mark Twain had said, "Fluid prejudice is the ink with which history is written". The one-eyed historian is usually the author of great epics. Stalin, while accusing the Britons of dragging their feet remarked, "God and the world shall judge"; Churchill responded, "Yes and I intend to write that history". On another occasion, Churchill said, "History will be kind to me for I intend to write it". That's perfect case of one-sided history.

Historians createheroes and bury the villains - a villain to one, can be a hero to the other and vice -versa. So at the end of any analysis of history, it is all about a history cloistered within the ambit of the historian's personal imaginative ability. Is it not worth a question, who bestows upon individuals the appellation of "Great"; Alexander the Great, Akbar, the Great, Peter, the Great and so on...... Indeed it is a co-ordinated and joint effort of historians and sycophants; in a few cases it could be traced to being self-bestowed. Religious history perhaps is the most distorted. It is victim to deep-seated grudges, ill will and bigotry. Historians rely on eye-witness account (however, colored it may be), details derived from physical remains of past civilisations like art, architecture, cultivated lands and even burial grounds. Based on these highly questionable evidence, historians write accounts of human civilisation. We can't expect honest history from suspicious writers, or those who hold events in contempt by the standards of their own judgement. The Historian must not try to know what is the truth, if he values his honesty; for if he cares for his truth, he is certain to falsify his facts (Henry Adams).

History is entrapment of mind by the historian's view, albeit, it may solely be based on falsified imagination. History must be read and followed, for it has only repetition to offer. In Aldous Huxley words, "That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all lessons that history has to teach". History is therefore, some facts, loaded on to a truck that is brimming with imagination and storytelling ability.

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