As I write, the sun has set on the last evening of the year: 2010 is coming to a close.
In one sense, it has been an eventful decade for me, and busy enough. Big family turmoil, successive surgeries on my wife and one on myself, minor accidents on the road, dad-in-law having and surviving a stroke, resigning my job and learning to be self-employed after I was past 38, getting used to the world of mobile phones and the internet, having some of my writing published, writing a whole book for my daughter, travelling again and again to different parts of the country, teaching thousands, bringing up my daughter, warding off and surviving all kinds of mischief-makers bent on giving me depression at best and a bad name at worst, buying a new car and a house, coping with at least two great bereavements and people who have taken me through emotional roller-coasters deliberately or otherwise, getting burnt and food-poisoning, saving obsessively month after month, year after year, being betrayed very badly by some I had loved and trusted… yes, I guess I have had my hands full.
And yet, strange to say (I was reading my journal entries nearly a decade old), time seems to have stood still. Were it not for the fact that my daughter’s grown so big, and that I have thinning grey hair and the beginnings of a paunch and twinges in both knee joints now when climbing stairs of winter mornings, this could still be December 2000. Very few really big changes have come about in my life and lifestyle in all these ten years, despite so many things happening: or at least I wonder why it seems that way. That is why it feels so weird to see and hear from so many people who were children then and are quite grown-up now, married, divorced, making a living, researching and teaching in their turn, raising children of their own, scattered all over the world, some having turned into snobs, some fancying themselves to be intellectuals, many ‘too busy’ to look back, some gone astray, some already thoroughly sick of life. When did they grow up? Have they really grown up at all? Have I grown old, or has Time somehow passed me by, so that I feel I am hardly much older than these people? Do all ageing teachers feel this way, or is this something peculiar to me?
They have put up colourful festoons and bright lights in the little
ustrial township next door: in a few hours’ time, the merry-making will begin there, as in millions of households and hotels and resorts all over the country, dancing, feasting, jesting, carousing until many of them have drunk themselves silly, and so another New Year will be rung in with head-splitting hangovers and surly mutterings. I have in mind the sort of people who write comments saying ‘Get a life!’, because I prefer to stay at home and think, and reflect, and write the year away. More sand trickling down the hourglass, but I don’t feel too bad about it. I guess I have stepped into what the poet called the ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’, and though I crib sometimes, it’s certainly a vast improvement upon the hectic, confused and dreary adolescence and youth that I have had to live through. In the year ahead, I ind h some of my readers will find serenity. wis