Abracadabra and a Happy New Year!

Abracadabra and a Happy New Year!

But every December-end, the ghost of the previous year laughs at us for having badmouthed it. We can all hear 2019 snickering: You left me for that?

I can’t wait to dropkick 2020 into the bin, partly because it sucked from start to finish, and partly because I suffer from the mass delusion known as the New Year. The earth will only do yet another of its endless revolutions around the sun, but we like to put a wizard’s hat on it and assign it magical powers. Everything will be cleansed and reset. The barnacles of bad luck, bad habits, and bad choices will be stripped off my back, and the unicorns of diligence and potential will make sweet, sweet love amid the wildflowers. The fascists will wither, and justice will be restored, or at least, I’ll cut down the smokes. Everything will generally become better.

But every December-end, the ghost of the previous year laughs at us for having badmouthed it. We can all hear 2019 snickering: You left me for that?

Of course, 2020 has been such a crime scene of a year that 2021 may actually be better. From brutal attacks on students in January to the Delhi riots in February, followed by the migrant crisis and the incarceration of anti-CAA-NRC protesters through the brutal Covid-19 lockdown; from the standoff with China, and the media circus around Sushant Singh Rajput, to floods in Assam, to the New Education Policy; from the riots in Bengaluru to a 24% GDP contraction; from the acquittal of the Babri Masjid demolition accused, to the Hathras rape; from the farmer protests to the first arrest under UP’s regressive ‘love jihad’ laws to the CIC seeing no public value to electoral bond transparency, to the scandalous opacity of the PM Cares Fund, to yet another patronising prime ministerial address to AMU…2020 has been a shitshow, and that’s leaving out all the heart-breaking obituaries, from Irrfan Khan to Shamsur Rahman Faruqi, and saying nothing at all of the international chaos.

But hope is the original Ouroboros, the serpent eating its own tail in an endless cycle of birth, destruction, and rebirth.

The farm reform laws may involve complicated issues of which many of us know little or nothing. But the fact that the farmers have sat themselves down eyeball to eyeball with Delhi, with a permanence just short of installing septic tanks and picket fences, should remind us of two things.

First, it says once again that the man known for connecting with the masses leads a government with lousy people skills (junking democratic procedures and rights allows you to junk a ton of people skills, too). Else, the Centre would be consultative and persuasive, not dictatorial; and it would respect the agency rather than keep telling people what’s good for them. Engagement would be negotiation, not a standoff.

Second, this implacable rejection of the central government, and the fact that the government clearly doesn’t know what to do with this, has injected a fresh shot of hope into a Republic now thoroughly moth-eaten by its self-appointed nationalists. The farmers who have repotted themselves upon the Delhi border, impervious to all the names they’re being called, are proof that resistance remains possible; that if a government is going to create a banana republic, the least the people can do is toss a peel or two underfoot.

The Ouroboros of hope from December 31, 2019, had snacked itself to death by March 2020; but springing eternal is what it does. Now we can feel all warm and fuzzy about the magical reset that will happen at midnight of December 31, 2020, when everything will generally become better. Until December 2021, that is, when 2020 might well snicker in our ears: You left me for that?

Happy New Year.