Sunday, 1 January 2017

Year End Chronicles

Numens of the Night, Halt!

Picture Courtesy: Angshuman Pal
Why rush, fair maiden of December, dressed in pristine whites which make you look but a ghostly apparition in the bleak twilit background of cold, the blackness broken only by a handful of stars and a sliver of the moon wrestling the urban pollution and fog? Are you in a hurry to make way for the young lass whose arrival you know is only a few hours away, who comes to lay her claim upon the birth of the new year, which is rightfully hers? Do come into my humble shelter and have a bit of respite; after thirty-one days of attentive vigilance and ministration upon my city, you have surely earned it. Your plight knocks the chivalrous cavalier in my young heart to life!

You are not the first of the honoured maidens to have paused at my dwelling, humble though it may be in the middle of such a crowded city teeming with people reveling the season and struggling for livelihood alike, and I certainly hope you will not be the last. You have been preceded by eleven of your sisters; in families of twelve you always come, I have noted. You appear to me as certainly the most gracious and delightful among all your siblings, I must say, with your dignified presence, bright and charming; you carry a feel of temperance with you. Your sisters who arrived just around midway through the year, I recall, were of a rather temperamental and excitable disposition! But again, it serves no good to differentiate among siblings, does it... Now, such deliberation can wait, as I hold open the door of my residence for you to enter.

Picture Courtesy: Angshuman Pal
Now that you are safe from the cold winds that sometimes pass through my city this time of the year, and are pleasantly warmed up by a cup of tea with a touch of sugar and milk added to it, let us have a chat. Reminiscence is a word I would be disposed to use, for it is mainly your elder family members that I wish to speak of; I have so many recollections of them! It seems almost an age ago, on a very similar night, when I first met your eldest sister. Now I come to think of it, you bear resemblances to her in certain ways; the cool yet pleasant manner in which she carried herself surely bore signs of good upbringing and a pedigreed family. I have always been slightly predisposed towards the first-borns you see.

The eldest maiden, charming though her company surely was, was to be my guest for only a month's meagre time. Nonetheless, I was not to suffer from lack of company, because your other sisters were all kind enough to pass me by. None remained for a very long time, it is true. Your second sister, I seem to recall, had a surprisingly short visit. Or was her stay slightly longer this time around? Maybe, I do not know... Either way, I developed firm affinity towards your sisters second third and fourth, who were all good-natured and fun to be with, though intermittently whimsical! A riot of colours and an occasional wish to indulge could be related to them. In particular, I fondly recall your third sister agreeing to stay on just till my birthday, which was an occasion to be remembered. Pleasant associations were had with all of them, I conclude.

Picture Courtesy: Rounak Akhter
The siblings numbered five and six, though, were a different proposition, were they not? Such strong personalities they owned, and all the world wilted before their gaze. Benefits were to be had from their visits, though, for they bore with them bequests of the tastiest morsels of fruits known to humankind. Well-meaning though they were at heart, I was nonetheless not overly saddened to bid them goodbye when they bid me adieu and wished me luck.

As half of the year exhausted itself, my city was sagging and drooping a touch. It was amidst a gush of wind that your seventh sister announced her arrival, and was soon followed by the next, both sweeping the city with life and vibrancy. Traces of sultriness and temper were washed away by the generous well-watered munificent arms of your siblings. We would do well to remember that the crops that were sown in that span of the year are what mostly sustain us for the rest of the while.

You surely are not getting bored by the stories of your illustrious siblings? Do not, for I shall now recollect the visits of the ninth and the tenth of them. Oh what fun they were! It is indeed a pity you shall never know how my city decks up with fanfare to welcome those two favourite sisters; to call the occasion gala would be a glaring understatement. My city goes wild with excitement it can barely control, and all thanks to your lovely sisters who leave no stone unturned in their quest to make their visit a memorable one for my fellow city-dwellers.

What do I say about your eleventh sibling, who came just before you! Agreeable and kind (you could be her twin!), she seemed to gently prepare my city for an event which was on the horizon - the approaching denouement of yet another year and the associated merrymaking. It was with her leave that I had the pleasure of getting introduced to you. You certainly have given us no reason to crib either, and these days my city has looked as happy and jolly as it could possibly wish to do.

And it is with you, good lady, that I must end this beautiful kinship with your family. Goodbyes, they say, are sad. But isn't it also the promise of a new beginning which can potentially be even more charming and delightful? Of course it is, and that is why we "Ring out the old, ring in the new". It would be indeed unfair to forget the troubles taken by you and your eleven sisters throughout the year, and that is why I look to store your delightful memories in the reservoir of recollections in my mind.

Yet another year passes. One looks back at successes and failures, victories earned and defeats suffered. These important moments are the ones that undoubtedly stand out, but only a knave can afford to forget the remaining time filling in fifty-two glorious weeks of the sensation of Life. It is not in the few big lavish banquets attended in our most impressive formals over the year, but in the three hundred and sixty six simple meals of breakfast we devoured, humble though they may be in terms of cuisine, that the year is defined. Go looking for the trees, and you miss the woods as a result.

With that, maiden of December, I must raise my final toast to you and hold open the door. All good things come to an end, as must your delightful visit to my premises. I know we shall not meet again, for the road you travel by knows no reversing. But in my mind and my heart, I assure you, you will hold your rightful place as have your sisters before you, right until the eggs of my brain get scrambled.

Leave, if you please, by the back door, for I have detected the arrival of an elegant lady by the name of January at my front, and I want to extend my finest courtesies to her and her family.

May the Lord shower blessings uninterrupted upon the world in the year to come.