There are two kinds of people in this world: those who love to be out on the New Year night (31st Dec) and celebrate with a high-voltage gusto… and those who prefer to quietly settle in their living rooms and do it without any noise (fuss)…
So, if the world is divided into these two spheres, I - no marks for guessing – belong to the second hemisphere… And, that has been so for decades now!
But, listen: I am not an abnormal soul… As a kid and as a young man, I have enjoyed it out in the open on 31st nights… and screamed, like all around me did at the stroke of the midnight hour: ‘HAPPY NEW YEAR’!
And, with that one long and lunatic scream, it would be all over… The next day, when I would get off the bed around 3 or 4 in the noon (in my case, due to lack of sleep and not due to a nasty hangover!), I would regain my senses and say, “What is ‘new’ about this year… what the fuss?”
This time around, 1st Jan was a Sunday. Around 9 in the morning, I was on my way to Tai Chi class. The auto rickshaw was waiting at a busy signal… just when the yellow light was to flash, two young boys, who were driving across, lost their control and were bounced off… bike and each young man in three different directions… The green signal flashed, and our auto drove on… All that I could see was at least 20-30 people rushing to the site… What happened to the two young boys – dead or alive - I don’t know… rather, I didn’t have any strength in my soul to know!
“They must have been returning from a New Year party,” the autowala declared, “They must have been drunk!”
For me, it wasn’t a happy sight to behold… And, for the parents and family of those two young men? My thoughts, instantly, went to my own 24-year-old son who had planned a New Year party with his nine friends in Pune… They were boys and girls… and, they were just like any other young boys and girls… They were just the way I was at their age… Still, like all parents, I wanted my son and his friends to return home safe!
At night, Stella*, my friend from America, sent me this mail:
Happy new year Gerry! Want to share with you my thoughts as I woke up on this first day of January 2017. My heart is filled with gratitude … everyone says that and probably mean it too. This moment, this morning brought yet another surge of thankfulness in me.
Last evening was a bit chaotic for our otherwise calm household… Our 17-year-old was hosting (with our permission) a New Year's Eve party for his friends… while my husband, our 18-year- old , myself, my mom and our dog tried to have some quiet time watching TV at home. Teenagers came, left, came back again… some brought their girlfriends, some ate food we had set out, others just visited… they watched a few movies in our ‘movie room’ where they could shut the door and we could still hear them… our dog got excited, anxious and refused to calm down.
Midnight came … we all toasted with a dozen teenagers to a happy New Year. The rest of the family went to sleep but I was ‘in charge’, so did not sleep until I knew all the girls had left and the ones staying for the night were all boys. Still they were talking, laughing and did not sleep until 4 am!
This morning I woke up first feeling irritable from lack of sleep and seeing all the soda cans, water bottles, half-eaten plates of food left around … my bed sheets used by these boys that I would need to do laundry! But, I am glad the feelings of irritability came and left within seconds … as I realized how much I had to be grateful for. I was grateful to see coke cans strewn around… not beer cans. I was grateful that our son had chosen to bring his friends home instead of choosing to spend New Year's Eve outside our home where we have less control of who he us with, what he consumes and not to mention the dangers of driving in the middle of the night with the risks of drunk drivers around driving as well.
I am grateful, especially, since I know what we experienced with this boy last year during the Christmas break (which was a phase that lasted for many months). It's not easy looking back at that phase ... our then 16-years-old was isolating himself from everyone including his friends, was showing clear signs of depression, was extremely rebellious and had rage and anger issues, was making some poor choices to combat the depression and loneliness he faced… all we could do was observe, try to help, shed some (lots of) tears, hope and have faith, and be very patient with him. All this time reminding ourselves (and reminding our son) every single day that we will NEVER give up on him... no matter what we were faced with.
A year later... things have turned around to some extent and this boy is again mostly joyful, the sweet boy he once was, loves being with his friends again, still rebels but respectfully, and is moving forward.
So, I will be grateful for this journey and the soda cans, the dirty sheets, the plates of dried food lying around... as they are reminders that we have two healthy teenage sons that continue to thrive with our love, patience and faith.
Happy new year again!
May we all remain happy and human all through 2017!
Pic.: Anil Bedi