By Jyots Bhattacharjee
It is the law of ture that time passes from past to present to future in a ceaseless flow. None can stop the flux of time and it has only one dimension, which is succession. So it is only tural that what is present today becomes past in the course of time. In fact time has no parts, since it is a continuous process without any break. But this eterl unbroken continuity has been divided into fragments like days, months, and years etc. for human convenience. Hence it is obvious that time is a dymic process and it does not remain static even for a moment. In this successive process new years follow the old ones in a tural way and it is a routine affair. In that sense the New Year has nothing special about it. But when the heart rules, reason goes out of the window. So we always wait for the New Year eagerly, believing it to be something unique. This time also we are doing the same thing and all of us are waiting for the arrival of the New Year in all its glory.
The New Year’s arrival is an occasion to celebrate, as it is big with hope and promises. Whether they will ever be fulfilled time alone would say. But still we can hope and pray for some good in the New Year, since that is all we can do. Hope is our life-force and without hope we cannot survive. Though coming and going of years is a tural process, yet the New Year has a charm of its own, which cannot really be specified. We feel that somehow it is different from all the previous years. The New Year’s Day seems to have a magical touch. Some people of course do not treat the New Year as something special. For them it is just another year. It is true of course, but we do derive joy at the arrival of the New Year and love to treat it as something special, whatever the cynics might say. We feel happy on the New Year’s Day and that is all that matters.
This is the right time for partying, feasting, dancing, picnicking; in short, for enjoying life to our heart’s content. As usual, the preparations to greet the New Year are made weeks ahead. The malls, restaurants, bars, hotels and shops have been glittering with blazing lights since the early part of December. Christmas and New Year always arrive in close proximity. Christmas trees, decorations and other gorgeous things in various shops enhance the beauty of the city. Santa Claus appears in many mega shopping centres to delight the kids. The world is ready to welcome the New Year at the midnight of 31st December with the ringing of church bells and bursting of crackers. Guwahati too is preparing to greet the New Year in style and perhaps with a sense of apprehension. Actually the horrendous events of the previous years do make us jittery about the coming year. Who knows what is in store for us!
The New Year is just round the corner, and I, along with millions of fellow human beings, am preparing to welcome it with abundant hope and joy. In my reasobly long life I have welcomed so many new years so many times; but reality fell far short of my expectations. Perhaps I had hoped for too much. When I look back at the departing year, my heart feels heavy with grief. We have no reason to feel sad at the departure of the old year, as it was as disastrous as all the previous years we have left behind. So many agonizing things happened around the world which need not have happened. Disasters, whether tural or man-made, are always sad. We have to accept tural disasters with resigtion, as they are acts of God. But the man-made disasters are all the more agonizing and so much harder to bear, as they could have been avoided. People today do not say with flowers, rather they say with bullets. We have been hearing about nothing except tragedy all these years and we do not know if this year will be any exception. But we can at least hope for something good and that is what keeps us going.
The year which is about to depart brought quite a few very tragic news for us. If I had kept a diary and had recorded all the heart-rending events of the preceding year faithfully, perhaps I could have maged to write volumes of tragedies. But of course a diary is too small to record all those larger than life events. The New Year by itself is neither prosperous nor disastrous; it is the human beings who make it so. Many tragic incidents occurred around the world which cannot be listed.
We cannot possibly forget the heinous activities perpetrated by man against man through all these years. These crimes are endless and we wonder how a ratiol human being can kill another without a pang of remorse. We have heard that God created man in his own image. If it is so, then how can man behave in this inhuman way? We have lost our finer feelings like love, sympathy, compassion, innocence, generosity etc, which are essential qualities of a human being. Violence has shattered the image of a non-violent India. Mahatma Gandhi had remarked that non-violence can be practiced only by the strong people and never by the weak. For him violence indicates weakness and not strength. Perhaps India does not have strong people anymore and that is why we are witnessing so many violent incidents each day.
Killing of innocent people has become a game to some persons. It is not only in our own country, but everywhere in the world it is the same story. The excessive rise in various kinds of crimes seems to indicate the biggest threat to civilization, states and societies in the 21st century. Even seemingly safe countries are no longer free from terrorism. Terrorism has raised its ugly head in London, Paris, New York, Washington and various other cities and countries which were considered as safe till a few decades back. Now no country is free from crime. It appears that crime has no boundaries. Its cancerous growth has spread all over the world. Nothing is safe now—neither life nor property nor anything else.
I often think that the people of the bygone era were much happier than us and they had a clear vision of right and wrong. Their wants were few and hence they had that bliss which we would never have. They were not power-hungry people chasing material benefits. They practiced spiritualism, which generated peace of mind. But we are never content with what we have and we want more money, more power and more wealth. We do not care if we hurt another person in order to gain some material benefit or out of spite. No one can be fully happy at the cost of another. But we have forgotten this basic truth and the irony is that we have even forgotten that we are only mortal human beings. We are groping in the wilderness in search of such transitory things like money or power which do not really matter in the long run. They bring nothing but misery, frustration and unhappiness. Fear of the unseen and the unknown have gripped the entire humanity and have cast a shadow in our lives.
In the last few years Intertiol terrorism has been growing in a phenomel way and it has become a new kind of threat to the states and the countries. These crimes are of diverse kinds. Besides killing of people they include rcotic drugs, contraband smuggling, which are closely linked with illegal arm trade and terrorism. Such kinds of crimes have spread like wild fire across the length and breadth of this good earth of ours. India has been facing a surfeit of violence through the years. To list all these crimes we will need reams and reams of paper—and what is the use, anyway? Almost every day we have been hearing about multifarious crimes. Our state possibly has been facing the largest number of crimes through the years. Once Assam was a very peaceful state and terrorism was something unheard of. But now violent activities do not affect us in the least. We swallow all these horrible news without a qualm. We do not feel the slightest grief at the plight of these innocent people. God created this world as it is the best of all the possible worlds, as philosopher Leibnitz had declared. But now apparently man has disposed what God proposed. Another major evil is corruption, which has gwed the very fabric of Indian society. We may not find a single honest person even if we scour the entire length and breadth of the country. Materialism has elbowed out the glorious spiritualism for which ancient India was famous.
At the back drop of such holocaust we are celebrating the arrival of the New Year with hope and optimism. It is amazing really—how swiftly the years have passed. The departing year’s celebrations are still vivid in our minds, as if they happened only yesterday. Yet a whole year has passed—a year of shattered hopes. Let us send a silent prayer to providence and hope that this year will be different.
This is the time for sending and receiving cards of good will to and from friends and relatives. It is such a joy to exchange gifts. The Young and the old alike love the New Year and the bright and cheerful cards which bring so much joy and hope to the anguished hearts. It is much nicer to receive a greeting card than a message on your mobile phone or e-mail. It may be a small card, yet so full of cheer and hope. The other day I saw a postman trudging across the road with a scowl on his face and without apparently being aware of the bright sunny day. His bag was bursting at the seams, probably with all those cards of good will and cheer. I thought what a lot of cheer the postman carried in his bag. He was bringing joy to so many hearts, yet his expression was gloomy and sour. I could not help feeling sorry for the poor man—distributing joy and good will like confetti, yet not even a whiff of cheer for him. I asked him impulsively if he was not happy at the thought of the approaching New Year. He looked glum and in a wooden voice remarked that for him every year was same—it would go on as before and another one would come again. After all it is the law of ture, he pointed out. It was true of course—he was being philosophical. And to be frank I too don’t see much to be happy about.
Persolly speaking I have even less to rejoice about. The New Year is merely ringing loud and clear that another year of my long life is dead and gone. Every departing year is bringing my end nearer and nearer. A sobering thought and a little bit depressing too. But time never stands still and years come and go as a matter of tural process of succession. Still the New Year is special to us and everybody everywhere in this good earth is ready to welcome it with abundant hope and joy.
Have you made your New Year resolutions, dear reader? I think it is time we did it. But I know that it is no use making resolutions, if we have no intention to carry them out. I cannot help feeling sad when I think of the departing year I wasted, without doing anything worthwhile. Time and tide wait for no man, as they say. I had many plans, many promises to fulfill—but nothing materialized. At the fag and of my life I realize to my dismay that mere promises or resolutions are not enough, if I do not have the will or the determition to carry them out. Only now I appreciate the significance of that moral maxim that good intention leads to hell while bad intention leads to heaven. In my long life I have welcomed many new years and all those years have been wasted. But it is no use moaning and groaning over the past. This year I am making no promises. With the passing of years I have become wiser and I know my limitations. I would perhaps greet the new year with a tear in my eyes for all those wasted years; and ever optimist that I am, I sincerely hope that the new year will bring peace and prosperity to everyone in this good earth of ours.
So many years have come and gone, but each year is special, something to cherish. Doubting Thomases may turn up their noses and curl their lips at us for being rapturous over the New Year. As a skeptical friend remarked caustically, “what is there to rave about the New Year? It is just like any other year. New Year’s Day is not at all different from other days. The only thing special about the new year is that it has made you older and you have taken a few steps nearer to the grave”. She was right of course, devastatingly right. But it seems like blasphemy to talk about the New Year so irreverently. Repining over the past or the inevitable does not help us in the least. We have to take life as it comes. You can either be an optimist or a pessimist. The choice is yours. The optimists face tragedies confidently and triumphantly emerge out of them, while the pessimists wallow in self-pity and make everybody sad and dejected. The pessimists are a depressing lot. As that wonderful lady Helen Keller remarked, “I find life an exciting business and most exciting when it is lived for others”. As Robert Browning wrote his immortal lines—
“The lark’s on the wing; The sil’s on the thorn; God’s in his heaven; All’s right with the world.”
Let us then count life’s blessings, dear reader, and think about tomorrow when the sun will shine brighter and dispel the clouds of darkness, sorrow and ignorance. Life is full of ups and downs and if for some it is more downs than ups, so what? It is also time to make the New Year resolutions and follow them sincerely, which would surely make us better human beings. Though we have lost humanity, some little bits of it may still be lingering in us, which we have to bring out by making constant efforts. At least there is no harm in hoping for the best—is there? Let the New Year bring peace to this good earth of ours. Wish you a very happy new year, dear reader!
(The writer is a former Head, Department of Philosophy, Cotton College, Guwahati)