Come December, the entire mankind appears to be in the feverish grip of preparations for the New Year celebrations. In the misty evenings of the month there hangs an air of expectancy, a silent anticipation and an unspoken thrill. The New Year, ‘the still unravished bride of quietness’, her face veiled is waiting to walk in with all her hidden treasures as everyone is busy preparing to roll out the red carpet to this lady of luck, the supposedly bounteous beauty. Frankly, I have never been able to mingle with that cheerful lot, share their optimism or partake of their revelry. I do not mean that I am a pessimist, but I sincerely believe that it requires super human effort to subdue those disturbing questions that cast a pall of gloom on the enthusiasm and exuberance of the celebration. The romantic glint with which others see the New Year left my eyes ages back.
To put it plainly, it sounds ridiculous to me that a particular hour or a minute in the endless flow of time could or promise to bring about phenomenal changes in one’s life. That the stroke of twelve on the midnight of the 31st December of every year could cleanse and purge the whole world bringing all miseries to an end by opening the flood gates of happiness is a story too much even for Harry Potter addicts to buy.
“Oh, come on Sir! Nobody expects such things to happen; it’s only an occasion to feel hopeful and share the common enthusiasm among friends.” True, it is an occasion to nurture hopes and remain hopeful that all our hopes would materialize. But didn’t we have similar hopes last year too? And haven’t we realized much to our disappointment and distress that most of them have been vain hopes?
I am now led to the point which I urge you to consider seriously. We expect the New Year to work wonders for us, to bring in changes for the better, to ‘ring out the old and ring in the new’, but oftentimes we fail to realize that every external change is the direct outcome of a corresponding inner change. As long our convictions remain as irrational as the stone age man’s, our outlook as unscientific and regressive as the Neanderthal man’s and our value systems rooted in superstitions and nurtured by obscurantism, it would be nothing but wishful thinking to expect the New year to be a harvester of happiness. The New year is bound to be yet another pack of 365 calendar sheets unless we have the deep conviction that it is not for the New year that brings us good luck but it is for us to infuse life into it.
Let me draw your attention to another point of principle. How many of us on the eve of the New Year remember to thank the Old Year for the rich remittances not only materially, but also emotionally, intellectually and even spiritually; for the wonderful experiences, intense moments, painful days and pleasurable activities, all that contributed to the totality of our personality? How many of us have had the grace to spare a thought for those bygone days that refined our sensibilities, widened our consciousness and strengthened our inner being? And what unseemly haste we show in showing that old lady the door as if we are embarrassed by her presence! I appreciate your excitement to welcome the Lady Luck in waiting but do not forget that this poor demented woman in rags was also a beauty once. If she is today a bag of bones, ugly and repulsive, remember we are to blame.
“Still waters run deep”. Don’t pin all your hopes on this demure young lady. Beneath her pleasant looks and winsome smiles there is a lurking fear that you will (ill)treat her the way you did to her elder sister, the old year. Time, after all, is a single unified entity and it does not recognize how you have segmented it into days, weeks, months and years. The worst that it cares two hoots for the stigma, superstitions and a thousand other foolish sentiments you attach to it.
There is a lot of sisterly affection between the old and the new years, the tail of the old being inseparably attached to the outstretched hand of the new. The elder sister does feel the need to warn her younger sister to be apprehensive of man. If you have sharp ears you can hardly fail to hear the whisper:
My dearest sister,
Beware of man. He is selfish and slothful. He won’t change but will want changes in all the things around him. He can’t work but loves to have the work done. He doesn’t give but expects gifts. He is reluctant to evolve but would like to see a better world. Our ancestors have been relentlessly teaching him the basic life lesson that all things proceed only from an evolved mind. But he has been too dumb to understand it. The only thing he has perhaps learnt from history is that man has never learnt anything from it. I wish you A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR.
Your English Sir
Original Post: Dated, Sunday the 31st of December, 2006