You were a great year. So great that I will probably not remember you in March, and will have forgotten you by the time October rolls around. But that’s because you would have passed from being a segment in time to being a part of life. Now I don’t know if you get that difference…but it’s like this. You, more than any other year, is like a scar I have on my elbow. I got it from falling into a pile of glass when I was eleven years old. It bled, it hurt, it got infected. When the doctor rubbed it with antiseptic, I almost fainted with pain. When he tried making small talk, I felt like pulling his tie so hard that he’d choke. Somewhere along the way, though, as the doc dressed it up in soft cotton and gauzy bandage, I got mesmerized. One’s open wound is a beautiful sight, once you are through with the screaming. It’s a corporeal reminder of a sentimental truth – whatever hurts, will one day heal.
So, you’re like this wound that I had many, many years ago. Past, forgotten, but permanent. I’ll of course forget you, bit by bit. But one day, when I think of something totally uncharacteristic, I’ll wonder when I’d changed so much. And I’ll remember you, 2009. Like sometimes, when I catch a glimpse of this scar and marks of neat little stitches on my skin. I go back to the time when I yelled and screamed and then calmed down, and showed off the bruise to all my friends.
You taught me to…savour. I’m a gulper by nature. I’m rough with no patience for nuances. But this year, every single month of the year, every single day of the month, and every single hour of the day, you made me aware. There was something so big happening on the outside. Something so important happening on the inside. One just had to wait and watch.
I discovered what it is to come home late, so late at night, switch off the lights, light a candle, and listen to music. The city looks like an assortment of gemstones from the window. But my soft, delicious, dulcet darkness was pretty amazing too. You taught me that although it’s great being the sparkly shiny tripper, it’s just as awesome being the dark, velvet cloth.
I discovered that I wasn’t all that easy-going as I thought myself to be. I need space. I need physical space. I get cranky and tight when I don’t get a room to myself for more than three days. I get angry when people don’t get that. I get angry when people comment on how I look. I get angry when they have an opinion on what clothes I wear – even if they are good opinions. And frankly, the only ones who think I don’t dress well are as stylish as a sack of potatoes. So they don’t count. But still.
I discovered what it is to read. To really, really read. To suck every little drop of a word and to let it percolate through the tip of the hair to the teeniest little cell in the intestine.
And the movies I watched – man…the movies I watched! District 9 …I don’t think I should even bring anything else up here. Nothing compares to that film.
Oh, and the plays! And what about those super art exhibitions I caught at Jehangir? Serendipity in color and sound!
You taught me to not take anything for granted. I had the most glorious monsoon. I had the most fantastic weekends. I had the nicest experiences with people. Like when the guards at Prithvi kept my purse safe, when I’d left it back. How the auto-fellow discreetly parked by the side to let a Sumo full of rowdy boys pass by at 3 a.m. How the police generally sauntered up to me and asked me if I needed help when I stood arguing with an auto-fellow. How the guy in the bus – dog-tired that he was, let me have his seat. You taught me to not trust people carelessly, like I had earlier. But you showed me that people – all people – were deserving of the most noble part of faith one can put in humanity.
You showed me rather ruthlessly that I am bad with money. Who gets down to sixty rupees by the 26th of the month? But you showed me that the city is bright and brilliant if you’re willing to walk. That without a T.V. and without money to go to a coffee shop, you can sit on a swing in your high heels and look up at the moon and feel ultra-posh.
In all my other years, I have either struggled to remember or strived to forget. You, on the other hand, taught me to fuse the soft amnesia and brittle memory together; to make that heady, sweet concoction that makes me smile over the fact that once upon a time, I fell into a pile of glass.
Happy new year, everyone! Stay safe, get bruised, be happy!