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Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye, 2010

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 industrial 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 wish some of my readers will find serenity.


Rajdeep said...

Thanks for sharing. I knew some and did not know much. Just having a few quiet days away from work myself, away from the boisterous crowds and merry making. Just a few mails and calls from old friends, students and teachers, including you.
And reading Sukumar Ray's Abol Tabol for some smiles.
Best to you, Pupu and Boudi.

Debarshi Saha said...

Respected Sir,

Regards. Its beautiful...my repertoire of words is not too large,but still I find most words in my vocabulary inadequate to express, the exact emotion I am feeling, at the moment I am writing...Its almost akin to the situation described in "A Hundred Years of Solitude"..when the inhabitants of Macondo lost their memories and tagged every single living/non-living object with "names"..so that they could identify them,understand their importance,their use...but not their "essence"..An entity has an essence of its own,a meaning of its own that it wishes to convey..not the meaning we assign to it...

That is the problem with words...A twinkle in one's eyes,a smile of true joy,a picture of art...they convey so much...what words fail to convey...

I wrote all this...because I feel as bewildered by Time..as people in the Stone Age probably did..when did Time start ticking?..when will it stop?..will it ever?..

I say something..that I keep on repeating,every time I write to you...

"Your life is a work of art,Sir...You are a artist in the true sense"...

With lots of Love and Respect,
Yours sincerely,

P.S-Just let me know,Sir..if you know the answers to my queries..rhetorical though they may be... :)

Subhasis Graham Mukherjee said...

Congratulations Suvro, that's a lot of accomplishments. clearly, you do your own gig and don't work for anyone.

there are zillion thoughts and debates on the topic of making money and keeping it or giving it away. there's a damn good reason to save - be in control of life and work, and the giving and philanthropy can be thought of at ones own appropriate time, will and judgment.

Bill Gates is all giving away and philanthropy now. This is only after years of being the wealthiest where such thoughts of philanthropy and giving were back-burner issues. There are signs of a downhill in Microsoft fortune now. The charity is nothing but moving to some long term low return investments (as in donating for vaccines for Africa while owning a pharmaceutical company) for a stable but still quite prosperous future.


Shilpi said...

Here's wishing that Pupu, Boudi, and you have a very happy year ahead.

Wishing for people to find serenity, and at the start of the New Year is a terribly unusual and precious thing to wish for. I don't remember the last time I heard someone even use the word (says something that).

I've got to say that the picture accompanying your essay is glorious. I'm tempted to say silent and glorious but if one listens there's some sublime music one can hear.

Take care.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Nice way to begin the new year, Rajdeep, reading Sukumar Ray! Cheers.

Debarshi, thanks. You are too effusive with your praise, but you have indeed hit upon something very important about me: I have tried all along to make life more than a drab meaningless continuum of making do, and sacrificing all dreams and ideals for the sake of making do... as for the questions, no I don't have any answers, but rhetorical questions don't require answers, do they?

Subhashis, thanks, but don't be so cynical. (all rich men are not as coldly calculative as Bill Gates, I can vouch for that). And I think this comment would have been more appropriate for the previous blogpost, anyway.

Shilpi, thanks. Yes, people have forgotten a lot of precious words, indeed (think of self-possession, and grace... and people these days are 'committed' for a few weeks or months, and understand by 'freedom' only the right to be just like everyone else). Likewise, not too many can hear the silent music... I am blessed to have readers like you.

Sayan Datta said...

Dear Sir,
A very happy new year to you and to your family and to all other commentators on this blog.
I took a small break around Christmas, but other than that it has been work as usual for me.
I have bought a few books and caught up on some reading and kicked the cancer stick once and for all. It has now been two weeks since I touched a cigarette; which is saying something if one considers that there was a time when I needed about 20 to 30 of them daily.
Sayan Datta
P.S - The picture is indeed brilliant and inspiring.

Subhasis Graham Mukherjee said...

Wish you the very best Sayan on your effort to kick the habit. It's one of the toughest of addictions to fight - do a small celebration every day (like pat yourself at the back) you stay away and reward yourself with something every now and then on your achievement.

I had a relapse after 10 years of my first attempt to quit and I am into 4 years of staying away in my second attempt. This time I want to win the battle for good - no matter what.

stay away from people or environments where there is smoking, keep a close watch on the triggers like stressful situations, fight the urge of the first one in the morning very hard - that's half the battle.

All the best for your wonderful New Year resolution.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Good for you both, Sayan and Subhashis, but please have some pity on me and don't turn your comments here into yet another anti-smoking campaign!

Rashmi Datta said...

Dear Sir,
I have met very few people in my life who have had your courage,self-confidence and self-satisfaction, who would so effortlessly bid farewell to their youth and welcome the next phase of their life.I have always believed that unless people do what they love in their youth,they are left dissatisfied with themselves.They dread even the thought of ageing and hence try to virtually postpone it,be it through anti-ageing creams and surgeries or by joining the 'yo-yo' group of teenagers in their desperate attempt to remain 'cool' or by defending the falling standards of the society in the name of 'optimism' (I know of many people in their late fourties and mid fifties who think there is nothing wrong with the present generation) .
Sir,you will forever be my role model , a person who will always inspire me to work,to read a lot on a wide range of subjects,to take risks,to form opinions only after I am very well read on a certain topic and many other things that you teach us through examples from your life.
I still remember how warmly and how readily you had welcomed me into your world and thank you very much for doing so.
I pray to God that in the coming years, you and your loved ones be in good health and that you have much less emotional strain.
Warm regards

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Sorry I took ten days to get back with a 'thank you' for the kind words and good wishes, Rashmi... do forgive me.

One of the recent grouches of my contemporaries is indeed that I should still look and sound so (relatively) young - isn't it time that I became surly and petulant and bitter like them, especially seeing that I am not even 'enjoying' life the party animal way?!

About the 'emotional strain' bit: it partly stems from the fact that I find so few people around to consort with who have both decency and good taste (and so many loud boors instead!), but the way this country is going, I don't think there's much help for it. But I am sure seeing my daughter finally standing on her own feet will take a large part of that strain away.

There's nothing frightening as such about ageing. It has its compensations, especially as long as one remains fit and active and solvent. And beyond a point, there's the consolation that one won't have to endure this life for very much longer: it's really no big deal, if one looks hard and clearly at it! Besides, for me, it has been a good life on the whole. And knowing some people like you makes it even better!

So thanks once again, and keep in touch.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Considering that more than 1500 pupils have passed through my classes in these last ten years, I should have thought a few more would have responded one way or the other to this post.

Re-confirms my growing feeling that human beings are not really worth caring for...

Shilpi said...

....but all human beings count - you said and some human beings have to matter at least, far and wide! You've told me the same, at any rate.

Regards and love,