Poised between the dying year and the one about to be born, the mind looks back and forward with mixed feelings. Looking back wouldn’t have been so painful had it not been for the terrorist attack on Mumbai on 26th November. The hangover of 26/11 clouds the anticipation of the New Year. The inane rhetoric from the South Block gives no cause for cheer. One would have felt much better if there had been a visible beefing up of internal security. Instead, we have the senseless needling of Pakistan, and indulging in blame game to detract attention from the Home Ministry’s lapses. If a house in not in order, the enemy will creep in. Is something being done? Will the plans for internal security never leave the anvil and get operationalised? The citizens wonder and worry while Ministers churn out plans and schemes. We, the people, need to be assured of our safety if we are to welcome the New Year with hope and without fear.
Further west, in the Middle East, Israel has started pounding Gaza strip. The human casualty has crossed 300 hundred. The Israeli Govt. has promised more. I’d always had a soft corner for the Jews. But now the questions which my mind had refused to entertain earlier, break through the barricades and challenge me. Why should the Palestinians bear the brunt of Hitler’s crime? Why didn’t the world community carve out a state in Germany to house the Jews? Aren’t Palestinians entitled to a homeland?
Guess it’s the cumulative anger against this injustice that is symptomatic of the defective worldview of the NATO, and is at the root of the Middle East trouble, that caused the American president to be the target of the footwear missiles recently. What a telling statement that was! Strangely enough, no one seems to be outraged! Isn’t that significant? That’s one image that I’ll always associate with 2008.
There is yet a world gearing itself for December 31st midnight. Fireworks will brighten up the midnight air. Church bells will ring announcing the arrival of the New Year. Bottles will be opened and Champaign sprayed over the big and small gatherings as TV screens flash live images of the hands of the Time Square clock joining to greet the New Year. The world will celebrate the arrival of the New Year. Yes. It calls for a celebration. Life is to be celebrated. But then, something nags at the back of the mind, and I pause and search my mind in order to put my finger on what’s bothering me. Suddenly it surfaces. I remember the images I saw in the news channels a couple of hours ago - of corpses of Palestinians who too must have looked forward to celebrate the birth of the new year, of the agonized women of Palestine, weeping and angry and protesting against the merciless Israeli attack.
And Israel says it has only begun!
Wonder why I have become so sensitive. Palestine is so far away.
Wish you all a Happy New Year!