2021: Ringing in the New, Ringing out the Old

A year is about to pass by! At this hour of midnight, I usually keep on clacking my laptop away, with a cup of coffee to keep me company. On a wintry night, this cuppa freshens up my jaded nerves, induces intimate conversation with myself, sometimes helps me potter around the lanes and by-lanes of bygone times, weighing my actions and inactions on an imaginary scale. I, sometimes, keep looking out of the window to the black foliage of the trees by the pond by night, which my balcony overlooks. I stretch my gaze to the neon-illumined street that lies almost thirty feet off my nook.

Nothing happened this year. Twenty-Twenty passed by quietly with nothing much to talk about. But is that true absolutely? No, not so. I was cooped up in my apartment for a major part of the year and went on typing away my emotions, my success stories, my failures, my dreams which mostly had remained pipedreams, this long interregnum of missing out on my old friends, missing out on frequenting theatres and movie-shows, on paying weekly visit to South City Mall. Even, on the pretext of buying new books, I used to spend hours in the bookshop at the Mall. I kept missing all for over these months of Covid 19-fear. I asked myself hundred times, could I put this time to right use? My mind seemed to take me in a light embrace and caress me. Yes, my creativity did not sever ties with me. Rather, it kept me busy all these months. I cried, smiled, guffawed, felt thrilled facing the laptop screen, while my fingers danced on the keys. And stories and poems took birth before my eyes, the travail I felt was befittingly rewarded once they were poured on the screen of the laptop in different literary forms like poetry, personal essays, short fiction, criticism, so forth. Some of them even saw light of day in journals of repute and brought me immense joy.

But, the Amphan gales blew the fibre-shade off my balcony, leaving me utterly shaken. Power-cut for five days left me utterly ruined as my laptop too could not be brought to life as it went out of charge. I kept looking at the swaying treetops till late afternoon and lit up candles to look at my own shadow in the mirror. Sometimes, I fished out notebooks, lying unused since long, to scribble away my thoughts. In fact, I reverted to my habit of writing on paper, after a long interregnum. Initially, it told upon my patience but later on I took it as my only companion for the next five to seven days. Two short stories, a good number of poems, three personal essays were what I could churn out during this time.

No sooner had the trauma of Amphan been hardly over than the whole nation seemed to reel over the shock of the death of an actor who carved a niche in our hearts with his brilliant performance in quite a few films of international repute. An aged actor too breathed his last. In a few days, before we could come out of the shock, we learnt of a mysterious death of another young actor whose innocent, pearly smile and twinkle in the eyes left all of us dazed, shocked, bamboozled. The whole nation raised a demand of justice for him and quite a few months sped by though the death still remained shrouded in mystery. We are still in mourning for him while many other related issues are being addressed by the investigating agencies.

Back in Kolkata… a slew of Corona deaths left us speechless, unnerved. The death of the legendary actor, Soumitra Chatterjee, left us dumbfounded. Curtain came ringing down on an era in which Ray cast his characters with the octogenarian actor at their helm. Even Diego Maradona, the footballer, who used to keep us glued to the TV set in our college days, bade adieux to all of us forever .
Lacklustre Durga Puja followed by Diwali, and lately the Christmas – all reminded us of the age-old lines, “ Alone, alone, all alone/ Alone on a wide, wide sea/And never a saint took pity/ On my soul in agony.”[ S.T. Coleridge: The Ancient Mariner] Still we are awaiting vaccination…may be just 70% … Oxford Vaccine is yet to reach us… We are still listening to the Christmas Carols and crooning New Year songs,
“Wish you a Merry Christmas/ We wish you a Merry Christmas/ We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!”
Sharing the old memories on our FB timeline, as popped up on our screen each morning, and talking to our friends over the phone, chalking out umpteen plans for the fresh year, which is yet to fall on our lap.
I keep typing this personal essay and taking a peek into my treasure-trove of my favourite numbers while this one by Celine Dion takes me in its cocoon and I take a plunge, unconditionally…

So, this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
A new one just begun
And so, this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear ones
The old and the young
A very merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear…
The dawn breaks now. The maiden dawn of a New Year, 2021. The sun is bobbing up dispelling the fog orbing it all around. The nascent crimson rays greet me through the iron-trellis of my balcony. Now, let me wind up and wish you all before I get down to mind my matins and the daily chores…
Happy New Year to one and all, near and far! Stay well, stay healthy! Be happy with oodles of optimism in your heart!