2016 : A year that isn't a year

Samarjit Kambam *

Only days are left for the year 2016 to come to an end, counting today. The year of 2016 heralded with a promising start but the ending is comparable to a nightmare. More like watching a movie that has a happy beginning with a tragic ending, only that it is happening in real life.

In fact, the promising beginning is having in store a compromising end. Trust deficit and widening of rifts among ethnic groups, rearing up of the ugly head of communalism with intensified degree, things going on communal lines viz-a-viz.

Unemployment reaching an all-time high. Drug trafficking climbing up the charts, rapes and molestation remaining a regular affair, pathetic governance, the UNC's unending economic blockade taking the common people for a ride leaving the state in a state of doldrums with the central government's demonetization adding to the woes manifold.

The previous year i.e. 2015, even though filled with recipe of gloom with shower of IED bombs as its ingredients had at least a silver lining with Magnificent Mary Kom, the diva of women boxing in India catching a gold in the Incheon Asian games, placating of pugilist Sarita Devi's punishment by the AIBA by curtailing her ban from the world of boxing to only one year, the announcement by the High Court of the state to give ex-gratia payment of Rs. 5 lakh each to the victims of Malom massacre which took place in Nov 2000 and announcement by the apex court of India for payment of Rs 10 lac as payment to the mother of Thangjam Manorama Devi who was tortured, raped and killed in the most brutal and inhuman way by 17 Assam Rifles personnel.

We, therefore, bade 2015 farewell and embraced the year 2016 with renewed hope, vigour, enthusiasm and faith for a much better year a year of peace, prosperity and happiness at its stride. Two celebrations thus took place one for biding adieu the old year and one for welcoming the new year which ironically commenced with a leftover of woe for the three ILPS Bills passed by the state government which has been termed as "anti tribal" by our hill brethren.

And then more and more ugly developments germinated in rapid succession like volley of bullets from an AK-47. Its like beginning the day with a bad hairdo when you are about to go on a date and then ending up with having no date at all.

Now, 2017 is knocking on the door and from the present developments taking place, I doubt it won't be any better than 2016. Every year, we use to rejoice on the new year's day, the 1st of January, with hopes for a better one. But guys, do you still have the vigour and enthusiasm to celebrate the incoming new year 2017? The answer, my friend is 'not' blowing with the wind.

Call me a pessimist, but sometimes I asked to myself, "What's so great about celebrating New Year?". On the beginning of each new year i.e. 1st January, people make new year's resolution, pray for a better, colourful, prosperous and peaceful one, throw away bad habits and practices and embrace good ones and live a positive life (sic, not HIV positive).

People celebrate the 1st January of each year so that each day of the new year glides on smoothly, gala all the way, keeping away at bay any mishap, unwanted incidents, crimes, illness etc etc. We believe and hope that if the first day of the new year goes on well, then the rest of the days of the year will follow well.

From an optimistic point of view its really fastidious thinking, for it shows that we as human beings want happiness and peace even though the year 2016 is winding up in hopelessness, misery and despondency.

That's what celebration of New Year is worth, only thing is that we the people of Manipur over-celebrate, we sing and shout till our throat get scorched, making noises that give migraine and headache to others at the vicinity, we drive our vehicles recklessly till we ram onto other incoming vehicles, we booze till we snooze, turning ourselves into bozos.

At this opportune moment I would like to add that we the people of Manipur always start with a bang and end with a whimper. Its like a sports team boozing and hooching for losing a tournament to forget the gloominess of defeat as well as doing the same as celebration to express joy for winning a tournament.

Nevertheless, it is a day that marks, reflects and give a message that the people really want peace and happiness, a day where we hope for all the good things in life. A new year brings faith to us, faith that makes us hope that things will get better, a hope which is embedded deep in our collective conscience.

Even though the year 2016 kick-started with some overdose of leftover of unpleasantries such as ILPS issue remaining raw, rising hatred amongst the different ethnic groups caused by some self-minded political honchos and elements with vested interest, umpteen bandhs, breached security in the heart of the city, poor traffic rules, bad roads and transportation quandary, inconveniences caused to public due to poor conditions of roads, unfulfilled promises by leaders of our state just like a hangover, spillover or unfinished business of the previous year 2015, hip-hop political drama and worst of all the UNC's economic blockade which is entering its 60th day leading to untold sufferings and misery to the common people, painting the state red, the unimaginable sheer magnitude of it with the UNC sticking to its guns and the state government with its adamant stand, the blame game between state and centre with the centre spelling out that law and order is a state issue while the state government reflecting that national highways are concerns of the centre. Solution on the impending issue seems to be light years away, not a glimpse of a tangible footstep to break the ice of the impasse.

In fact, the year 2016 is a calendar year with 12 months and 365 days but taken from a humanitarian perspective, it is a year which is not a year after all. Still our spirits do not wane and our minds yearn for a year 2017 better than the previous one. Lets not lose faith and keep our hopes alive so that the new year 2017 unfolds into a very happy, prosperous and peaceful one.

Let saner voices echo in the hills and valley with no "you", "me", "they" mindset. Lets always remember that the Nagas, Kuki, Meiteis are blood brothers and have been living together in harmony for millenniums.

Brewing hatred amongst ourselves is tantamount to cutting our own legs. Its high time to realise that the world is progressing at an exponential rate while we are stepping backwards as a result of our myopic scope and narrow-mindedness. Unity amongst ourselves regardless of hill and valley people is the clarion call for a peaceful and prosperous Manipur.

Wishing you a Happy New Year 2017!

* Samarjit Kambam wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on December 31, 2016.

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