I have never believed in ushering in the new-year on a frilly note. Somehow find it silly to go cooing 'happy new year' when there's that dearth of happiness all around. And as 2020 closed with painful cries from varying locales, there is an absolute 'no' from my end to come up with that formality-dripping one-liner: Happy new year!
Like every new year start, I planned to usher in this new year, sitting somewhat forlorn with hot water bottles clutched tight in my hands, reciting these lines of Faiz Ahmad Faiz : "Somewhere near the pillow,/ the night's fading away/ Or is it the candle melting?/Something is burning within me –/ Is that your memory, or my life seeking to depart ."
Call me outdated or backward or one of those boring introverts but I refuse to give in to facades. With that in the background or foreground, I am in no mood to move away from the ground realities.
Tell me, what's so astonishingly positive holding out for us in this new year? It could get bleaker on the virus - pollution - distress fronts. With financial lows spreading out, darker and murkier times lie ahead. And even if one were to forcibly fit oneself in the glass-half-full category, I still manage to see vacancy holding out, on not just on our faces but writ large in our eyes and hovering along our fields and hutments, lanes and alleys. An eerie build- up, forewarning of the trying times in the coming year. Tell me in such a scenario how can one tickle oneself to laugh and giggle or to go about hugging 2021 with contrived concoctions?
And please don't come up with silly new- year resolutions of shedding those extras kilos along with well-tucked inhibitions. If at all you are in that resolution flaunting mood then do shed that extra layer of that thick hide on you. Throw it off .Then see the realities of the day, not just here in our country, but also out there on the high seas.
In our country, sheer tyranny heaped on our people by the sarkari dictates of the day. One can well imagine what the farmers are going through, sitting on the Delhi borders in these freezing temperatures. Perhaps, it's their sheer grit cum will power that's keeping them going …withstanding the zulm of the rulers of the day. And out there, in our inner and outer lanes, married couples are getting torn apart by the fascist 'love jihad' policies of the rulers of the day.
And last week evening an absolutely pathetic sight caught attention. Television shots of boats carrying hundreds of the hapless Rohingya refugees, moved from one shore of Bangladesh to the other. Little cattle men and women and children moved from here to there.
Even in our country, the condition of the Rohingya refugees is pathetic. The Rohingya refugees who managed to flee from the daily rounds of torture in Myanmar but are now surviving in our capital city, New Delhi, in the harshest possible conditions, with only a handful of organizations reaching out to them. Ironical it is, though half of New Delhi's population had been refugees in the late 1940s, yet there is such indifference to the plight of these refugees in our midst.
Also, aren't all of us refugees? Isn't seeking refuge a state of the mind? So many times don't we close our eyes and mentally transport ourselves,from a difficult situation towards a peaceful one, as though finding ways and means to survive. How many of us keep seeking refuge from hurt and deceit and pain …running away from horribly complicated characters ? Those who are not so fortunate to run away , take some sort of a temporary refuge in the folds of their dupatta or shawl or chaddar and cry out. At least that piece of cloth gives them that cushioning!
As I'm keying in, I sit wondering of those bygones when men and women wandered about, rather too freely , from here to there without complicated procedures. No, they were not kept at bay and nor labelled 'refugees' and nor 'suspects'. Instead, accepted and made to feel comfortable. A complete contrast to today's so-called developed times when there lurks an air of suspicion and distrust. More so, as we spot a 'foreigner' around, a hapless homeless someone seeking refuge.
This year will only complicate cum compound the refugee crisis the world over, as more and more right-wing governments are hardening their stand and giving in to the harsh political dictates. Even the big-bodied United Nations has not been able to give the required cushioning to hundreds of refugees in deep distress, desperately looking for refuge ,just about somewhere or anywhere! What's their future and where do they go, running from one country to the next ? How many perish and drown whilst trying to flee?
Television shots of refugees crossing borders is enough to jolt nerves. And activists who are reaching out to the Rohingya refugees here in New Delhi detail the absolutely pathetic conditions they are surviving in. Yet we don't even bother to speak out or reach out; deadened either by our own sorrows or by those inflicted on us by the political treachery that's on and ongoing.
Well, so thick -skinned we have become that we even fail to realize the basic underlying fact: citizens can become refugees overnight because of the political chaos and civil strife. They can be made to flee from their homes towards a nowhere of sorts. At times seeking refuge in their own country, fleeing from one state to the next.