'With 2017, will one shed violence, terror, rape, rage, pollution, environmental degradation and loss of humanity?'
'That may be too much to hope for, but for a while -- away from the carousing and partying -- spare a thought for hope and concord.'
'The world is still a beautiful place, if a little flawed,' says Kishore Singh.
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
The times may be bad, but can years, by themselves, be bad too?
If so, then my own annus horribilis is thankfully nearing an end.
Rarely have I rejoiced in the passing of a year as much as I have 2017, one of the most personally ruinous to have stamped its presence.
"Next year will be fine," said my mother, who is a great believer in almanacs and astrological charts, "just let this one pass."
But for someone of adamantly agnostic beliefs, there is little relief to be gained from this mumbo-jumbo, though one can only hope that a new year brings some cheer.
For what will change with the passing off one calendar year to the next? Will one's spell of luck magically alter?
I am not naturally despairing and tend to view the glass as half-full, never half-empty.
If eye surgeries dogged me throughout the year, the silver lining is that I have my eyesight -- though, for a while, I must admit it was touch and go.
I lost my father -- unexpectedly, out of the blue -- but he went as he had lived, like a soldier, without illness, hospitalisation or warning.
My daughter's heartbreak? She saved herself from misogynic trouble in the future.
Illegal occupation of a family property? It's brought us siblings together in a way none of us could have anticipated -- and there is legal recourse.
Was it, like the curate's egg, bad only in parts?
Apparently so, because some good did come of it. Unable to take our annual vacation overseas, we opted for one in the hills instead where, with no pressure to check out the sights, we could sit, relax, read, play board games (yes, really) and bond. It felt good.
The dog has ruined fewer parties with his greedy snatchings or carpets with his retching up of bones.
Our son seems to have found a companion that, given his newfound inability to whisper sweet nothings and other nonsense into the phone over hours, appears to have the tenacity to become permanent.
I no longer pay an EMI on my car.
Our friends have grown older and more precious. Their children have had babies, I have a grand-nephew now, my wife has added grand-nieces to her kitty.
There are family members we have lost touch with -- some by choice, others by mischance -- and others we have reconnected with.
Our friends' children are our new friends -- why is it we know more about them and their lives than those of our own children?
Last year, we attended a record number of wedding parties, but unfortunately, a greater number of funerals too.
The world is perennially poorer of familiar faces.
What will the new year bring?
Time has lost its ability to surprise, but there are still many things to do.
Places to see and countries to visit, books to read and authors to meet, foods to sample and cuisines to eat, languages to learn and tongues to understand, babies to hold and children to protect, violence to stem and peace to reign.
With 2017, will one shed violence, terror, rape, rage, pollution, environmental degradation and loss of humanity?
That may be too much to hope for, but for a while -- away from the carousing and partying -- spare a thought for hope and concord.
The world is still a beautiful place, if a little flawed.
Sorrow just makes us realise how much more we must care for it and for ourselves.
May 2018's annus mirabilis be a less eventful one.