Welcome to another year: a new year of grief, underachievement, despair, loss and hopelessness.
We just haven’t had enough of these, have we? We need another three hundred odd days to get the hang of the feeling: gloom, failure, frustration.
So onward we march into the valley of death.
A party of fools blinded by faith, misled by ambition, seduced by hope.
I sure cannot wait for another year.
As I type on my Dell here, it’s noisy outside. Noisy enough for midnight. You can hear people screaming out, whistling, laughing. The roar of distant motorcycles on their way to Park Street can be heard from afar. Firecrackers are being burnt. One such rocket—clearly above the permitted sound levels at this hour—joins the cacophony, momentarily drowning out the voices before fading into the air.
There’s a girl from the multi-storied opposite crying into the night: a happy new year to everyone! Almost immediately more wishes float through the midnight air in response. Well-meaning merrymakers, all of them.
There are girls crying out in other places too.
The girl in the lonely village deep in the heart of rural India is crying, for example. Her father is on night-duty far away in a shopping mall in the bustling city. Crying because her father is away from home and in his absence, her helpless mother has been dragged off by local youths to satisfy them , drunk on cheap rum and cheap thrills.
This girl cries because she cannot bear to see this anymore, however; not because it’s New Year’s Day. Soon she knows they’ll get tired of her mother and she would be the one to be dragged off.
Then there’s the daughter of the Sub-Inspector of Amherst Street Police Station. You’ll say that she has no reason to cry. She’s been pleaded into a decent convent school by her father, has decent friends, lives in a more or less decent three-bedroom flat in a police housing complex on Bhupen Bose Avenue. Oh but she has a reason to cry. Her father—on traffic duty at the Amherst Street-Vivekananda Road crossing—had been hit by a motorcycle driven by helmet-less gundas, and is in the ICU of a more or less decent hospital.
You want to hear about boys crying now? Surely there isn’t a boy crying anywhere in the world?
Come with me to Salaheddine, a district in southern Aleppo. It’s been 2017 for a full twenty minutes now, but Tarek refuses to stop weeping. He’s lost his whole family, one by one. First his father was apparently killed in the battlefront; then his shelter was bombed and his mother couldn’t make it out alive; then his sister was wrenched away from his innocent five year-old grip by some strange men dressed in khaki and carrying guns over their shoulders. He’d obeyed her when she asked him to run, thinking she’d chase like she had done so many times earlier, catching him playfully and tickling him in his stomach and kissing him on his nose and making him giggle. For some inexplicable reason, she didn’t follow. And he couldn’t understand why she was wailing in the distance as the men dragged her away.
But children are weak right? Men aren’t. Now a man just can’t be crying too anywhere on New Year’s Day!
Ah, you look but don’t observe, hear but don’t listen. The fifty-eight year old widower is crying uncontrollably over his coffee in his apartment in New Jersey. He’s just come across an article in the newspaper about a hippy who’d overdosed on sleeping pills and had been found dead down south in Texas. He’d recognized the hippy’s name and picture in the papers. They mysteriously matched with those of his son with whom he’d quarreled and subsequently parted with after a disagreement over choice of lover.
Funny, isn’t it, that no one cries back to these people. It’s only the girl from the multi-storied—who’s got Closer on at full volume now and is presumably drunk—who gets a response.
Nobody is answerable to them, right?
You see, in moments of temporary excitement and happiness we forget those who really need their little share of happiness too. This is a cliché but it’s true.
Lost in the music and the moment that Eminem so dearly alludes to, the plight of the Sub-Inspector’s family drenched in the cold, unfeeling tungsten light of the hospital waiting-room slips our mind.
Carried away by the inviting aroma of General Tao’s Favourite Chicken at Mainland China, we forget about the tired, hungry doorman outside the restaurant—the same one who opens the door of the Uber when it pulls up and raises his hand to a respectful salaam before you drive off—oblivious to the disgraceful situation his wife is in far away in his native village.
This year prick that artificial bubble of comfort you live in and breathe in the grime of the world outside, the grime that you’ve been so ignorant of all this while.
Francis Bacon said that knowledge is indeed power. And now you have the power to change. So help the world while you can, in whatever small a way you are able to.
Make a difference.
Or if you want to, you can finish reading this post and go back to your meaningless world of self-indulgence and dance till the world ends (like what Britney Spears says). If you’d rather have it, heat your liver with wine that your heart with the little bit of warmth that this world really needs.
You’re right, it doesn’t matter.
There’s nobody stopping you from enjoying life. Dream by all means. You’re entitled to your share of celebration too. Just don’t neglect or ignore the sufferer as if he doesn’t exist.
I’ve opened my eyes to the world now.
Can you open yours too?