There’s not much to be happy this New Year

It may get bleaker on the virus-pollution-distress fronts. With financial lows spreading out, darker and murkier times lie ahead. An eerie build-up is forewarning of the trying times in the coming months

As I mentioned in my last column, 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 dearth of happiness all around. And as this year came to a close with painful cries from varying locales, there was an absolute ‘no’ from my end to come up with that formality-dripping one-liner: happy new -year!

Like every new year start, I ushered 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Call me outdated or backward or one of those boring introverts but I refuse to give in to facades.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 the upcoming 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, across the high seas.

♦ ♦ ♦

In fact, I sit writing this fortnight’s column, there’s heavy downpour and thunder and lightening, in and around the capital city, New Delhi. With that in the background or foreground, my heart is with the farmers, who are braving it, taking on Nature’s onslaughts together with the political build-ups. The level of the sarkari apathy can be judged from the fact that though till date over 50 farmers have died, in fact, martyred, during their ongoing peaceful protests against the Farm Bills, yet un-moving sits the top brass.

My heart is also with Nisar, the hapless shoe-seller in Uttar Pradesh’s Bulandshahr, who was harassed and arrested from his pavement stall because of the shoe manufacturing company’s brand name ‘Thakur’ imprinted on the shoe! Not to overlook the fact that Nisar was picked up by the cops at the orders of Bajranj Dal men! Mind you, this is not the first time that Bajrang Dal men have played havoc. In the last two weeks this is the third reported incident from Uttar Pradesh, when these men tortured several innocents before getting them arrested by the cops. They ruined the lives of the Moradabad based couple, Rashid and Pinky. Thereafter, they ruined the life of the Bijnor based seventeen year old Muslim boy Saqib who was merely chaperoning a non- Muslim girl, after a birthday party; getting him imprisoned. Now, of course, this hapless pavement seller Nisar of Bulandshahr, who was rounded -up by the cops under the directions of Hindutva men. Ironically, the owner of the Agra-based ‘Thakur Footwear’ licensed and registered company, Narendra Trilokani, was not questioned by any of the Hindutva brigades!

My heart is also with the family of the 50-year-old woman, gang raped and killed in the most horrific way by three men in Uttar Pradesh’s Badaun district. To top it all, the police took over 17 hours to register the FIR! One is left wondering what’s become of that state, where there seems a set pattern to rape and killings. In fact, till date we haven’t forgotten that brutal murder cum rape cum forced cremation, or call it forced burning,of that young girl in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras. It was one of the most horrifying killing yet little follow- up, in terms of punishment to the accused sarkari men. Mind you, these gruesome atrocities are taking place in this day and age! Yet we have the audacity to quip we are developed!

Till the governmental machinery is not held accountable for our collective safety, there’s to be little respite from these barbaric happenings. Mere suspension of policeman is not going to take us anywhere… There ought to be no camouflages and cover-ups but immediate action against the corrupt and criminals around, moving around in those various garbs!

♦ ♦ ♦

Perhaps, the rulers and administrators manning the State machinery, haven’t heard this verse of Baba Farid Shakarganj (1173-1265 AD)

“Farid, the earth questioned the sky, Where are the mighty captains gone?

In their grave they rot, was the reply

And rebuked for tasks not done.”

♦ ♦ ♦

Perhaps, those hell bent on dividing us along caste and creed lines have not heard this verse of the patron saint of the Kashmir Valley, Shaikh Nuruddin (popularly known as Shaikh Ul Alam Nund Rishi)

“Why are you harping on the caste

His is the only caste

His essence is beyond the bounds of knowledge

The doers of noble deeds all have the same caste

If O! brother you surrender to Him, then alone will you become pure”

♦ ♦ ♦

Leaving you with these lines of Baba Bulleh Shah …

“Masjid dhaa de, Mandir dhaa de, Dhaa de jo kuch dhenda,

Par kissi da dil na dha vee, Rab dilla wich rehnda hae

Destroy a mosque, destroy a temple, destroy everything in sight.

But don’t break a human heart, for that is where

God resides.