Friday, January 1, 2016, Poush 18, 1422 BS, Rabiul Awal 19, 1437 Hijri

Meandering Thoughts
Reminiscences and reflections
Syeda Zakia Ahsan
Published :Friday, 1 January, 2016,  Time : 12:00 AM  View Count : 105
Through the mist of bygone years, my mind travels back to the historic Chowringhee Maidan in Kolkata, to the tinkling of the rickshaw bells in the evening, to the sound of the muezzin's beautiful voice during Fajr prayers from Lahkibibi masjid next to my home. I was actually dreaming as I awoke to another cold misty morning in London as the sun prepared to set on 2015.
The year has gone by, with so much to remember and so much to reminiscence on, so much to ponder on and so much to cherish. On the eve of New Year the mind in me journeys to Kolkata, back in the days when during Christmas the road in front of our house used to be decorated with coloured lanterns, multi-coloured lights and a crib at the corner of our road with Jesus and Mary in a manger. On Christmas Day we received cakes and goodies of various sorts from neighbours, people who inhabited homes of different Christian backgrounds --- Madrasi, Bengali and Anglo-Indian. Here in London it has all been a change. No cakes from Flurys and Nahoums from Kolkata's New Market. Times have changed and the world seems to be a rather busier and more selfish place.
The tinkling of the rickshaw puller is heard no more and has now been replaced with voices that tell me, on the London Underground, to Mind the Gap. I do not watch from my balcony any more the workers from Kolkata Corporation washing the streets with hose pipes at dawn. The cold winter evenings remind me of death, for it was winter when my parents passed away. The chill of winter reminds me, even as I feel my heart twitch, of the nights when both were buried in the silences of a cemetery in Kolkata. It is that time of year when I recall my beloved sister Razia apa, whose warmth and love touch the innermost recesses of my heart, touch my soul even though she has passed on. Her radiant countenance with a benign smile appears before me and I can feel her love as I did when she was alive. I remember too my brother, with his renditions on Islam and law and who now lies buried in Morden here in London. And then there is the other brother whose voice resonates with epic tales from Islamic history, which voice is now weakened, with lungs struggling to breathe normally. This, I tell myself, is life.
The year 2015 has been one of mixed fortunes for humankind. It has been a time when natural calamities reigned supreme, when habitats of wildlife and fauna and flora were not given much importance and where deals were made in the interest of industrialisation at the cost of nature and every living creature dependent on its largesse. It has been a year where cities and civilizations have been bombed and droned and children were left bleeding without shelter and food; a year when tsunamis, floods and wild fires have had devastating effects on humankind. For me, it has been a blessed year, blessed because God Almighty kept me well and alive, because I have had the opportunity to be loved and love all I have met and mingled with; for I have been in the company of the most loving of friends and relatives. My world has been replete with a cheerful bunch of nieces and nephews whose love and affection to me is symbolic of the manifold colours of the rainbow after a spell of monsoon rain.
I have bestowed with all such things and more. And I have had to work with women for whom I have been able to make some difference in their lives.
As we awake to the new dawn of 2016 today, the heart in me lets out a prayer: Let the halo of light fall on the needs of humanity. Let us not aim at destroying each other but emit amity and empathy for all; let our objectives be aimed at the welfare of people and for an Earth safe and secure for us to live in.
As I move to the twilight of my life, it is the light of the candle that I see shine on the doings of humankind. I watch with bated breath; I wait for all that is to come in 2016.
Syeda Zakia Ahsan is a teacher, mentor and trainer for parents with multi-faith backgrounds in the United Kingdom

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