More than the celebration for the forthcoming year, the end of the year is a time for introspection: looking back to glance at the 365 days, analysing what we did in those 8760 hours, how we spent those 525600 minutes, what good and bad happened to us in those 31536000 seconds, and above all how those numerous moments fled freely in times of happiness and how heavy they lurked during sorrow. In most countries of the world, the drill is common: coming together to bid the year a final goodbye and to welcome the forthcoming year with zeal and zest. Togetherness therefore marks the end of the year and the start of it. Although we revel together in jubilation for the year to be, but our individual selves do recall somewhere in the subconscious all the pain and agony the departing year has left us in, yet we toss our heads in hopes of better times, in hope of a better year.
This year stepped in no differently. It was also characterised with hopes, prayers and invocations in favour of a better tomorrow. Although, there is no denying the fact that each year turns out to be an amalgam of good and bad experiences and the beauty of human nature lies in its spirit of expecting good after every bad experience. Hence our infinite new year expectations! Therefore, this year too, the world bid an adieu to the previous one but this time with an aversive stimulation given the fact that it was alike for the whole world – annus horribilis! And all looked forward to 2021 being an annus mirablis.
As a Kashmiri, I admit the kind of disgruntlement each year end brings, too hard to overpass, leaving but just a verse on the lips of all and sundry:
Ye us tabah shuda saal ki hai aakhri shab
Ke jis mein halaqat hai sogwari hai!
The year gone by was no different for Kashmiris. It had the reverberations of the previous years – the same kind of lockdown, the same fear of going out, the same home activities! In summation, the same feckless lifestyle! Yet, what was really unprecedented in the year 2020 was that homologous to the situation of Kashmir was the footing of the rest of the world! The Upanishadic concept of Vasudeva Kutumbhakam(The World Is One Family) finally assumed a new force and face. The world began to suffer like one whole family. It was as if some impalpable power had united us all.
Expecting the new year to be a package of rejuvenation, once again, I held the pen between my fingers to scribble a series of eupeptic predictions in hopes of a blithesome year. As a detached observer, a writer can fill pages altogether, for one can only see and not suffer. To comment on what you see is relatively quite convenient. But I was not a detached observer, I very much partook in the catena of events that had gone by and some of which were still extant. As a participant, I felt my scribblings did not cohere with my innermost thoughts. No doubt, new year is always associated with the the doctrine of optimism. Reflection and optimism, the most used and most loved words of new year, became redundant in my writing. I dropped the pen, read and re-read what I had written. Oh! How I abhorred it all!
A perquisite of being a writer is the freedom of articulation and discretion of formulation. Too knackered to write the cliché sentences characterizing every new year, I decided to shun the habit of writing trite commentary on new years eve. Instead, I decided to wait. I wanted to feel the newness of the year 2021, I wanted to assimilate its aura before prognosticating about it. It was going to be a test of times or rather I was putting times to test in order to decipher whether there really was novelty of any sort in this year or not.
Wait is usually considered to be unpleasant, overpowered by an ardent eagerness. My wait was no different, biting winter akin to rubbing salt in the wound. Days went by and a month vanished from the diary of the new year as if drafted in security ink. I, along with the whole world was left with another speeding year, with nothing new to offer – no consolation for the bitter times, and no certification of a better tomorrow. For the first time in forever, a queer epiphany dawned upon me. I realised that we treat the new year in the same way as we treat our fellow beings. We bind our hopes to it, expect all wrongs to be corrected by it, seek only love from it and curse it when it acts contrary to our expectations. I found out that the new year was, maybe somewhere, a personification of me, him, her and every other human being that exists. It tries to be flawless, it tries to please, it tries to provide happiness but it fails to placate our unsettled hearts.
January, the first month of the year, is named after Janus, a pagan god with two heads faced in opposite directions. One looks back to the year that has departed and the other looks forward to the new and uncertain year that lies ahead. From times immemorial, humans have been imitating Janus – that is, holding on to the past with our eyes on the future. But, both the past as well as the future are beyond human control. Therefore, eschewing all other resolutions this year, let us try it this way – let us live in the moment! Live it, love it, embrace it, and appreciate it. Let us learn to value this evanescence called ‘Present’!