IN THESE TIMES, the topmost wish on everyone’s list has to be Peace. Let us have a year, for once, when we don’t have to deal with bomb blasts in our State. Or indeed, in other States, other cities around the country. We, in this Northeastern niche of ours, have been exposed to so much violence over the decades that it is true to say that an entire generation has grown up in the shadow of violence. Our youth do not know what it is to live without the perpetual fear of bombs going off in public places, killing, maiming, leaving so many grieving…So yes, let us wish for a year of peace, truly. Not peace as in the glib words that trip off our tongues and our store bought greetings cards, as in “Wishing you peace and prosperity for the New Year,” but real, tangible peace, where not a single innocent human life is lost to terrorist violence. Is it too much to ask for? But why should it be? We are supposed to be living in a civilized society after all, are we not?
While we are at it, let us also wish for something that’s related to this desire for peace this New Year: better policing. Not just policing as in better frisking, and searching of vehicles, but actual, result-oriented policing, the kind that catches the perpetrators of crimes, and then brings the criminals to justice.
And yes, here’s an important wish: how about a year that is free from bandhs? Most of us, even those who actually call the bandhs, know that these serve no purpose, and are in fact harmful for the people, and the economy of the State. But it seems that the wish to come to the limelight in an easy a manner is irresistible. In the hinterlands, the smaller towns and littler villages, especially, the number of bandhs that routinely take place is amazing. And all for problems that can easily be resolved at the negotiating table. Is it too much to wish for a year when these sudden, drop-of-a-hat bandhs don’t take place anywhere in our State, at all?
And so, on to Wish Number Four. Let us all be blessed with good health in these coming months. As we all grow a year older, this is an important wish. Aches and pains begin to be felt in various parts of our bodies. These may be niggling in themselves, but who knows, they might be the precursors and pointers to larger health issues! So let us all wish for knees that don’t hurt, eyes that see clear, hearts and lungs that manage to keep us going up those four flights of steps, arteries that remain unclogged…Most of all, let us hope that our brains remain unfuzzy, that neurons and synapses function as smoothly as they did in our youth.
As we all know, better health can only be achieved when the environment is less polluted. Today, a simple walk on the streets in front of our city homes exposes us to fumes, and dust, and disease, to an extent that was never seen before. Let this be a year, therefore, when the Earth, too, has a peaceful time. Let our surroundings be re-greened, let the rivers be cleaner, let the wilderness be tranquil again, this coming year.
But what is health, and what is a peaceful environment, if there is no joy in our lives? Let this be a year, then, when laughter rings out, loud and clear and often, in all the nooks and crannies of our homes and our minds. As we grow older, we all have reasons to grieve. How can we ignore the gap left by a missing parent, the space once occupied by an absent brother? But, as Jules Renard said, “We are in this world to laugh. In purgatory or hell we shall no longer be able to do so. And in heaven it would not be proper.” Let us find joy, then, in the small things, the abundance of reasons that surround us. Let us celebrate the flowers in our gardens, the sunshine in the skies, the food on our tables, the music on our radios and CD players…
And people. Let our lives this year be peopled densely with all those whom we love, our relatives and friends. Let us all make new friends this year, for what is life if we cannot surround ourselves with those whose mere presence brings us joy? Let there be new faces in all our lives, friends as well as relatives, young and why not, old, too, to celebrate the continuity of life. But let those whom we have come to depend upon to give us happiness remain around us, also, so that we may nourish our souls with the ever-strengthening bonds of those precious relationships.
We do have to face up to the inescapable fact, though, that much of our happiness depends on the state of our wallets, and our bank balances. It would be futile to deny this. Let us wish, therefore, for a year in which prices plunge, and our incomes zoom. A year in which the bear is vanquished by a rampaging bull, a year when the sensex soars and our gloom disappears. A year when the economy of the nation recovers miraculously, a year also when our own humble finances please us at last with their growing size. A year when our spending is less than our earnings, when our earnings are more than our desires! Now that would be truly wonderful, would it not?
All Things Considered, though, let’s not forget that which takes up so much of our waking hour, that inescapable fact of life, our work. Let us all have work on our hands that challenges and satisfies, that gives monetary benefits as well as fulfilment for the soul! Let none of us ever be without work, but let us not have so much that we cannot keep a work-life balance. Let us have, in short, just the exact amount of work that we can deal with, that causes us no sleepless night, but brings us a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment, this year.
Let us raise a toast, then, to the coming twelve months, with a favourite Irish blessing for all of us:
May the road rise up to meet you, May the wind be ever at your back, May the sunshine be warm upon your face, And the rain fall softly on your fields.
Happy New Year!