Something told us, we should occupy seats near the exit. We weren’t forced to attend the lecture in that hall, we went of our own volition. The subject was of interest to both of us — my niece, of 15 years, has a curious interest in history; so do I.
We are great companions when we travel or visit museums. Her favourite reign in Indian history and my favourite reign in Indian history were enemies and were always at each others’ throats. Yet, we have a very interesting conversations. When she was younger I tried to bring her over to ‘my’ side to no avail. She liked them, and she liked them a lot. Her likeness for the enemy camp is further aggravated by the fact that she doesn’t particularly have respect for my side. We’ve been at various places of historical interest together and her innate curiosity of things has never ceased to amaze me. In fact, most of my reading is a result of her questions: answers for which, I did not have. I like her lens of looking at history — devoid of religion, politics, and social norms. Seeing it for what it was. For what it is. And while our favourite factions may have been sworn enemies once upon a time, there is one thing that brings us close, very close, together: medieval arms and armour. The same weapons that our favourite factions used against each other, and shed blood on both sides. We see the sword in absolute terms: it has no side. The beauty, the grace, and the sheer presence of a sword, a dagger, or a shield sucks us both in the same wormhole. (I think she is a dagger person and I am a sword person, but we haven’t established that yet.) Most of them are common (to the factions we support). And as these ronin blades hang in glass-cases in museums all over the world, both of us are filled with wonder. We appreciated the jade and ivory hilts. Engraved rock-crystal hilts, and beautifully damascened blades. Art of War can mean other things. Very few of the weapons were properly labelled, so we had to refer to our book to make sense of what was what, which period it belonged to, and such. The rest of the stuff in the museum didn’t seem to be as much of value and beauty. Also, it was time for us to get to the lecture.
It was a memorial lecture. In memory of a person who has contributed much to the museum. So we got to saw a short film on his life. It was fascinating. Then we heard a short lecture about his life. Not so fascinating. And just when sitting close to the exit was making sense, the main lecture started. We could not see the person who was lecturing. She sat and lectured. The first slide of the presentation was all that we could see. For a long time. We heard another long introduction of the person, in whose memory the lecture was being delivered. This time, the experiences of the lecturer with the memory-person. Of the 60-80 people attending the lecture at least 90% were senior citizens. I felt out-of-place. You can imagine my niece’s plight. An hour passed by. After multiple promises by the lecturer that she will show us pictures and talk about it, the first slide seemed determined to be in the spotlight; unmoving. We exchanged glances. She opened her fist: five more minutes. At the stroke of the end of the fourth minute, she poked me.
Like a swift slash of a broadsword, we were out of there.
We drove to the nearest cinema theatre and watched Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015). In 3D. We both enjoyed it immensely!