The sudden death of Steve Jobs came as a shock to many, including me. Death, every death, leaves behind a vacuum. Agree. So did the death of Steve Jobs. No doubt. But with the underlining of Steve Jobs life by mourning over his death I felt quite disturbed.
The sms I sent out to many friends on 6th of October read: “Steve Jobs was a great man. Sad that he passed away quite early. But I am thinking why the death of Ram Dayal Munda (30 Sep 2011) was not mourned so widely! How and of what we construct memories, as I see, are also a part of our politics and a reflection of what we stand for.”
By underlining the life of some people by mourning over their deaths we are also creating memories for ourselves and others. Through these memories we are also constructing our histories. What we include and exclude in this mourning, in this memory and this history reflects our politics and what we stand for.
The rich life of Ram Dayal Munda is not recognized when his death is not mourned and not even registered in our minds. When the death of Ram Dayal Munda’s death goes unnoticed, his life itself doesn’t get space in our memories, he gets erased from our mental and emotional history. By not telling the story of Ram Dayal Munda, by observing silence about his life, at the time of his death, we are excluding him from our memory and our history. At the same time Steve Jobs becomes more and more a part of our memory and our history by the way we construct memories through mourning and thus underline his life.
In this politics of inclusion and exclusion in memory a certain kind of history is being written where a ‘capitalist revolutionary’ finds a mention but a revolutionary who dedicated his life for the preservation of tribal culture doesn’t get any mention or gets less mention (speak of the 11th page given to one and the 1st page given to another and the politics of prominence which again forms memories and writes histories in a different way)
Storytelling and retelling of stories is an important aspect in keeping memories alive and through these memories writing a certain kind of history. When mourning we invoke, through mourning the life of of the dead and thus narrate the story of the dead man’s life. Thus underline the life of the dead. These narrating of stories through mourning not just reflect what is our politics what we stand for but also what kind of history we are writing and what kind of history we want to pass on to our future generations and what sort of a dream future we have in our minds.
Do we want to present Steve Jobs (d. 05 Oct 2011) as the model for our future or do we want Ram Dayal Munda (d. 30 Sep 2011) or a Wangari Mathai (d. 25 Sep 2011) is also reflected in what we mourn for and by mourning what story are we narrating and through that narration what kind of history are we constructing and what we are including and excluding in our writing of history and narrating that history to our next generation on which the next generation will build itself, which will form the future.