Time and tide wait for none is an uncontested saying. Time is a great healer, a bleeder, neither purchasable nor stoppable nor retrievable nor avertable. It passes and goes forever. High end luxuries can be purchased but not a single second of time. It is concerned with every creation, construction, destruction, worship, punishment, reward, award, death, birth etc.
Who value time it rewards them. Who mock at time it jeers them. It encompasses air, none can escape it in joy or sorrow, pain or pleasure, deluge or refuge. It is past, present and future. It ripens, rots, makes day and night, dawn and dusk, empowers, dis-empowers, subordinates, enslaves, traverses silently. It is unique and universal. It comes neither moment before nor later nor leaves earlier.
In The Quran in Aayaat No.1& 2, of Surah Al-Asr No.103, the smallest of the 114 Surahs having total of three Aayaat Almighty swears by time and wants to inculcate in humans, inter-alia, the value and worth of time. Unfortunately violation of this heavenly direction erupts from the beholders of The Quran particularly on the eve of marriage ceremonies sacrosanct for mankind.
The misuse of time starts right from thinking about selection of design, format, cost, kind of paper, choice & presentation of words to be written and printed on the invitation card to the stage of delivering it (personally) by the host to the varied, vast, and various prospective guests almost taking about two months to complete the job. Any omission entails wrath & severing of the relations taking subsequently years together to reconcile sometimes at the fag end of life at either side to restore normalcy.
The purpose which could be served at much less cost and time through the media of telephone, e-mail,whatsApp or text messages ends at incurring whopping amount, much time, more energy not for any ease but to remain hostage to social taboo. Everybody though agreeing to its dispensation in principle, ensures & encourages its continuance in practice.
The dishonouring is irrespective of urban-rural, rich-poor, educated-uneducated divide or season. Absence of present means of communication did justify its past practice of meeting personally to the persons visited who would remember, in a manner feasible for them, the dates of invitation, the number and mix of male/female invitees lest they should miss the occasion.
Subsequently the practice of invitation through cards was introduced by the then elite class of society which attracted its users gradually and surely till it became a pre-requisite. Once a simple communication for record and reference has now transformed into economic and social mess visualising its involvement of time, energy and costs in hundreds of rupees and interference in other activities. Its validity expires after a brief stint on a pre-fixed date thereafter finding its disposal that too painfully into a dustbin with labour spent on it vanishing thereto.
At least simple low cost cards can be an alternative if at all it is inescapable. Why ignite a stove with a currency note where a simple match stick can do? The avoidable costs can be better utilized on serving the cause of orphans, widows, widowers, the needy, specially and differently-abled, education and health institutions, augmenting the socio-cultural connect to promote peaceful, harmonious and welfare society.
This is in addition to the extravagance adopted in preparation of number & weight of non-vegetarian/vegetarian dishes and other so to say avoidable expenditure which, however, deserves a separate write up. The perpetuity of practice reveals the nonchalance the parties are grossly laden with not to change so goes the penchant of self persecution. Only an unseen force seems to be a game changer in such situation.
Card serving process goes as legacy not a considered thought to value the request and the information it bears. Guests are requested to be in time, punctuality will be appreciated card manifests as meticulously as suffers its non-compliance ruthlessly by the host and the guest, both abusing the time as per choice.
Neither the service confirms to value of time nor the guest respects the request abusing the time at both ends. Any chunk of guests who happen to believe in the card contents become unchained prisoners in the canopies awaiting what/when and how to be served and as paupers at the receiving end. In time- Mr As are necked to belated- Mr Zs who drag in reverse the whole function.
Turning lunches into to suppers, entangling the invitees with problems of late return to their destinations. This is the fate meted out to the simple English words of punctuality commonly understandable. It is not with marriage ceremonies only. In public/political rallies people are to wait for hours together in open bearing scorching heat, chill/rains/storm/snow to welcome the much awaited visiting dignitary whose late arrival (considered a mark of greatness) well teaches ab-initio the lesson of dishonouring peoples’ fate . While others purchase time we are among the misusers.
Then some English alphabets in capital letters as ‘RSVP’ hardly miss the chance of being put in bold on the left hand bottom corner of the card. Some of the people –even educated, are not aware of it being actually French words in abbreviated form which when decoded expand to ‘repondez s’il vous plait’ meaning ‘ reply if you please’ emphasising upon the would be guests to confirm their participation or otherwise, so that preparations are made accordingly.
Surprisingly who know, do not respond and who do not, are undisturbed. This pesters hostk, guessing for how many/much to prepare causing embarrassment & worry for fear of shortfalls or repentance on wastage owing to excess preparations. The climax of rehearsal culminates in the despatch of baraat. To accompany baraat too is now mostly an unwelcome event again for disrespecting the time which consumes almost whole night barring insignificant percentage.
People often distance from gracing the occasion except the irremediable. Thus prologue is ill-treated and epilogue mistreated. If anybody is asked to strive for any pursuits, s/he has no time comes the answer. Misusing the unique makes us unique amongst the undesirables.
On the other hand if anyone is wasting time on a trifle it is again we; busy with no business, doing nothing except abusing of time. Valuing time is increasing it and that is prolonging life. It is to ponder, respond and make a good hay while the sun of life shines.
The author is a former Sr. Audit Officer and Consultant in the A.G’s Office Srinagar.