YOUNG WORLD

Marking time

NIRUPAMA HEGDE

Marking time

World Time interval is a strange and contradictory matter in the mind. It would be reasonable to suppose that a routine time or an eventless time would seem interminable. It should be so, but it is not. It is the dull eventless times that have no duration whatsoever. A time splashed with interest, wounded with tragedy, crevassed with joys — that's the time that seems long in the memory. And this is right when you think about it. "Eventlessness has no posts to drape duration on. From nothing to nothing is no time at all". East of Eden by John Steinbeck.

New Year's day has no real historic significance, there is no astronomical reason that it falls on January 1, nor does it celebrate any landmark event; it is simply, in the words of Steinbeck, a post upon which we drape duration. The New Year is nothing but a marker of time, a symbolic separation, reminding us that yet another cycle of 365 days has passed. In fact, it is simply a boundary, separating one cycle from another. States have boundaries; nations have borders — the New Year, rather than dividing actual land or spaces, divides time. In the crossing from past to future, the New Year gives us a moment to simply stand upon that boundary, somewhere in the centre of the days gone by and those to come.

Each of us has different measures of time, annual dates like birthdays and anniversaries that have special personal importance, but January 1 becomes a day of global significance. With the passing of yet another calendar year, we look over our shoulders to assess the time gone by. There are innumerable shows on television, articles in the paper, and programmes on the radio recapping the last year. Every show on television in the last few days has been a summary of the year gone by. Television sitcoms recall major moments of the past, MTV counts down the hottest songs of the year, the History channel even documents how New Year's day itself has been celebrated in the past. This is considered a time of assessment from many angles. The South Asian community in New Jersey counts down its favourite Bollywood songs of the year, personalising the celebration to its own heritage and culture. In effect, we all condense the moments of breaking news, hit movies, chart topping songs, and anything that caused a media frenzy into a quick review of the year gone by. This is one holiday that is neither religious nor political, though it is celebrated differently around the world. It is one of the holidays that, rather than celebrating the views or beliefs of one community, and pertaining to one religion or one race, actually brings us together, as a united society. A global holiday — a day when the entire world comes alive with festivities.

Each year it rolls around, reminding us to take a look at the legacy of our past, and get ready to shape the future. Happy New Year!

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