2011 was a strange year. Well, every year since 2001 has been strange and it never ceases to amaze me how much the world can conjure up moments and memories that live with you forever. But 2011 was strange because I could sense myself changing; for better or for worse only time can tell.
Exactly 10 years from my first trip outside Calcutta, I made my first trip outside India. I went to Pilani leaving every friend behind and made new friends who will last a lifetime. I learnt the meaning of sojourn that might last lifetimes. I hope Singapore does the same. But the me of 2011 is a different person and I can’t be sure if he is as nice and the innocent as the boy who went to Pilani. Or maybe even he wasn’t that good as I think him to be in hindsight. It’s strange – nostalgia not only makes me like my earlier self, it also seems to shade its many follies and blemishes.
2011 was crazy. I loved my work, messed up my personal life forgetting the small things that makes so much of a difference like ensuring to visit parents at least every few months. But more importantly, somewhere along the way, my unflinching faith had waivered. I have never been able to figure out if I am religious. But I knew for sure I am spiritual. I believe in a power beyond human imagination. Depending upon my world view at that point of time, I am at times a follower of Advaita, believing in the fact that I am His manifestation, at others I can’t believe that someone like me can be a source of infinite power and then I start believing in God in the more traditional sense of the word. Those are the times when self doubt begins to creep in about the absolute goodness in this world which must win, in the end. Or so I believe.
What was worse was that I looked around to find people around me becoming intolerant, argumentative and outright rude. And maybe people think of me in the same light. I really do not know. We rarely stop to hear others’ views. We want to shout and impose our views on others. The earliest Greek philosophers and the Indian saints knew the importance of the dissident voice. The Greeks might have fed a few to lions or given them hemlock but more or less tolerance was a virtue. Today, it’s seen as diplomacy, a lack of spine or even submissiveness. What many forget is that an arrow that has been fired or a word spoken can never be retrieved.
One thing that made a real difference this year was the viewing of Miracle on 34th Street a few days before Christmas in China. When faced with the question if Santa Claus exists, the judge rules that the people of America have reposed their faith in God and on every dollar bill they proclaim, “In God we trust.” All was asked of us to have faith as small as a grain of sand. Sometimes, even that’s difficult. And we need to remember why He exists. This was the 1994 adaptation of the 1947 classic but good nonetheless.
Nat Geo had this brilliant article on King James Bible in the December issue. It was The Bible that defined the English Language. This year around Christmas as I was cleaning up my attic, I chanced upon my Bible from school.
Everyone interprets religion and gospel in different ways. Everyone reading this would remember the story where The Son of God says, “let who has never sinned be the first to throw the stone.” I always thought it was the best proof that God loves us. I have not found anyone yet who can throw a stone. Allowing such a species to exist is perhaps the greatest demonstration of a cosmic filial love.