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     Volume 5 Issue 78 | January 6, 2006 |

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Slice of Life

Stock Taking

Richa Jha

As I popcorned and danced to usher in yet another new year, amid exalted revelry, my mind gradually started turning oblivious to the external music and din. Perhaps no one noticed. But my mind withdrew into a private retreat of introspection. Had it been yet another year which would leave me with a feeling that it could have been better.

As the party fumes, sprays, and bubbles filled up the room, I thought of the many ways in which the year that had been fought shy of coming close to my idea of the perfect year.

I thought of the promises un-kept- the promise to my son of spending more time with him; to my husband of being more understanding; to my friends of remaining in active touch; to the parents of sending them at least one set of photographs of the kids once a month; to myself of not breaking the resolve of sending new year greeting cards to well wishers.

My thoughts raced to the several occasions on which my mind this previous year was convinced it was the end of the road. I felt a sense of shame at having entertained such morose thoughts; how could one give up so easily? And wasn't I doing the same at that moment of celebration too?

I felt a collective disgust at not having met the deadlines more than once, either at school, or with my writing assignments, or elsewhere. And yes, the sheer callousness of not having pushed myself to the limits (and beyond) and having called up the SWM team at the last minute expressing my inability to hand in a piece for a particular week, knowing well that it would throw the entire team into a state of near panic having to plug the page with something else. And although it happened very infrequently, each time it has happened, I fell lower in my own esteem.

Then there had been those moments of rudeness, of arrogance, or of intense jealousy, each directed at someone or the other in particular. Moments of unfounded unjustified anger that belied the otherwise 'balanced' exterior I project. Or of embarrassing pride in the self; moments of clashing egos, or of sudden animosities that have little reason to be around. These may have all been fleeting reactions to situations, but the truth is, that no matter how cool headed one may be, such reactions do lie hibernating within each of us.

Of the times when I chose to ignore trying to see beyond what my mind wanted to believe. The moments of acting on pre-conceived notions, or giving in to the voice of un-reason. These had all been moments of weak will, and I wanted to know why one allows oneself to be led by sentiments that are alien to one's basic nature. Why does one wrest so much power with one's dark side…

I felt agitated. Why was it that, at that moment of community jubilations, of celebratory chants screamed aloud in unison, there were no positive strokes on the canvas of my mind? Why was it that there was little my mind was remembering that in itself could have been reason enough to revel in.

That is when, just as the music stopped for the countdown to this new year, a face flashed before my eyes my daughter's! I could feel my spirit lifting. How could I have been forgetting the obvious? Wasn't it the year my daughter was born! And suddenly, it didn't seem so fruitless at all. This had been the year when my son found a lifelong companion in a sibling; a year that taught him to gracefully accept that nothing is the Given in this world not even your parents' unbroken, undivided love and attention.

I peeped into the other room where the children were having celebrations of their own. I saw, in that brief moment, the way my son ran up to his sister (yes, she too was having her own share of entertainment), planted a peck on her cheeks, the delight blooming on her face, and the way her eyes followed him across the room as he ran back to his friends. Suddenly, everything else seemed insignificant. Suddenly, the melancholy of a few moments ago melted into a flutter of hope and reassurance.

I think my mind had been waiting for this little positive nudge; and in flooded all the countless other moments of unsullied joy, shared laughter, genuine concern, of sincere attempts at having tried to be of some help to people in need. In flashed moments of big and small personal triumphs; moments of inspiring and drawing inspiration; moments of passionate involvements and zealous participation in activities close to my heart. Personal triumph also at those rare instances when I had refrained from being judgemental while giving the other person the benefit of doubt in situations that could have led to potential misunderstandings among friends.

The year that had been did manage to earn a rightful place in my heart. Yes, the year had been special, because looking back, I realised that I had allowed myself to live for the moment. And now was my time to welcome many more of those moments that would go on to make a lifetime of happiness...

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