After the celebrations, the realisations.
There was a time when 1990 seemed so far away, another age, another milennium. Even 1950 seemed a distance away, and 1975 another quarter century after that to go. And suddenly 1990 is here, a span of life is being completed, if it has not already been completed.
I have been thinking. If I had been living in some under-developed African country, I would have been dead by now. Even in a developing country like India, but for the availability of modern medicines and drugs in the past 20 years, the term of my life would have expired by now.
Even if I had been still working with The Times Of India, I would have retired by now. Been presented with a wall-clock (the final needle in the retired man's flesh, to keep him aware of the passage of time) and a paragraphof time) and a paragraph on page three: "Busybee, the popular columnist and reporter of his paper, retired last week. His colleagues felicitated him at a meeting in the canteen. The deputy assistant resident editor praised his diligence and devotion to duty. Mrs. Busybee ws present."
Fortunately, that has been one embarrassment, I have avoided, by resigning instead of waiting to be retired. But it has not stooped the passage of time.
And time has moved on inexorably. Only yesterday it was 1985, a new era under Rajiv Gandhi, 21st century here we come. And today an era under one prime minister has already come and gone and under another prime minister begun.
Everything else slows down with age, but time appears to fly faster. Weeks look like days and years like months. Like every other commodity, when you have time, you do not value it. It is only when the amount of time at your disposal gets less, you start worrying about it. There is so much yet to be done and so little time to do it in. books to read, places to visit, old friends of half a century before to recontact, before they pass away or I do.
When I look back and think of each phase of my life, it seems such a long time that I have been alive and active, long enough to write 20 volumes of autobiography, illustrated by Mario de Miranda. And yet it also seems to be such a short time.
And yet, several new years I have felt the same wat: in 1980 and 1975and 1960 and 1950 and 1940 (no, not 1940). But life seems to have gone on. So there is every possibility that I will last out to bring in the 21st century. Myself and Rajiv Gandhi together. That is my wish for the New Year, for myself and for Mr Gandhi.