With The New Year Unfolding …


Humra Quraishi

Call it a mere formality or an ongoing dastoor, as the year ends and the new year takes off, one is supposed to take note of the positive highlights. Well, for the last several hours, I have been thinking, mind you thinking very hard, on any of the positives of 2021 but sadly nothing came up! Not a single thing that stands out or impresses.

Nah, new airports or highways don’t hold out, as only a very small percentage of our citizens can actually make use of them. The rest of us just cannot afford to travel from here to there, so what if new airports come up! For whom?  Not for us!

And what’s all this tamasha and distraction gimmicks of changing names of cities, towns, roads!  Even changing age limits to marry or not- marry will bring about nil change, when all that thrives is sheer poverty, and along with that , ruthless  muscle power!

This nudges and provokes one to mention that  just last  week  a particular  photograph  hit –   BJP MP, Brijbhushan Sharan Singh, slapping a young wrestler during a national championship event in Jharkhand capital Ranchi. Singh also happens to be the president of the Wrestling Federation of India, and was present as chief guest on the first day of the Under-15 National Wrestling Championship event at the Shaheed Ganpat Rai Indoor Stadium in Ranchi.  It is whilst he was present there, he upstage to slap a young participant in the under 15 age group, who was not supposed to participate as he did not fit in the age category. The young participant could have been told to get off stage but to be slapped in public was horrifying. A very disturbing capture. Wonder if Singh has been ousted from the Wrestling Federation of India, or continues to sit up there, to slap or scar many more of our future sportsmen!

This  year – 2021 – has  been  full of  deaths and diseases and deceits and destruction  It  has left us  more than deprived for  years to come. Perhaps, the worst affected are our children.

Mind you, if we don’t reach out to our children, we are doomed.  I’m not into any of the new-year resolution sermons, but yes, I feel it is the duty of each of  one of us to reach out  to children who sit deprived of education and food and  even the  basic woollens to face a very harsh winter. In fact, just last evening, as I walked past a closed down construction site, I spotted a labourer’s family with their children scantily clad. This, when it was one of those bitterly cold December evenings here, in one of the suburbs of the capital city, New Delhi. To the ‘why’ the parents looked sheepish, before uttering, “Because with no-work, we have no money to buy a thing!”

I wonder why there’s little focus on this grim reality of our times. Where is that childhood for our children? It seems in tatters! No childhood!  Straight into the rough and tough world of adulthood!

 Don’t know how tough it would be getting for children with special needs.  In fact, I’m reminded of Komal G.B. Singh made documentary, titled ‘Neel Gulab’. This news reader turned film maker had made this film years back in the 90s, focusing on a spastic child.

To this day her reasons for making this film hold out: “I felt I was  getting   stuck in a grove,  so   thought of  making documentaries  on social issues, partnering  with  film maker Asha  Dutta …I’m  making  films  only  on social issues, although  it  is a struggle  to  make  such social-oriented  films  but  I  derive  a lot of  strength  from  the  satisfaction  it  gives. Also, your creativity  wants  you to do  more  satisfying  things in life. We are not giving directions  do a this  for the  spastics. All that we want to say  or relay  is that do not pity  them  but  treat them with a lot of  gentle love  and  then  see them bloom.”

Komal  had  detailed more, “ Actually New  York  based  Gerda  Klein’s  poem  – The  Blue  Rose  – rotating  around  a  little  spastic  girl, touched Asha and I  to such an extent that we decided to make a  film on that. We  were determined that whatever  be the  costs or the  hurdles or the   challenges involved   in dealing  with  such a  sensitive subject  we’d  still go  ahead and  make   this  film…Spastic children  are  special, as  rare as the  blue  rose, and if  tended  gently and  cared for,   they could  bloom  to  such heights  that you and I  would  be  nowhere  in front of  them and their  talent …Also, full credit   to  Gulzar  saab, MF  Husain, Amjad  Ali Khan,  Jaya  and  Amitabh   Bachchan for  making this  film  bloom …Gulzar saab  wrote a beautiful Hindi  adaptation of the original poem by  Gerda  Klein,  maestro   Amjad  Ali Khan  rendered  music for this film, Hussain  sahib  did  the  background  canvas for the  film and  Jaya  done  the commentary …And  none  of them   charged, saying they were  doing this  for  cause.”

  And whilst  keying in   these  words  and sentences  on  Komal  G.B. Singh and on her  film, I  have  been  sitting wondering:  Why  has  she  moved away,  from  centre stage to  quiet solitude?  In fact,  years back  this  courageous  woman  had spoken out, not concealing  the  fact that she  had  gone through  a  rather rough  patch  in life. Perhaps, with that she had opted to move away… a   total change of scene for her.

Wish she could make more films on the relevant issues of the day.


Getting you back to the present .realities. With that, all that I can  say: We were better off in those years passed by…when verse and sentiments held sway, with carefree abundance holding out. There was less of violence and hate and divisions. And more of togetherness and free flow of the arts and creativity, of words and verse.

Leaving you with Kerala’s celebrated rebel poet Balachandran Chullikad’s verse titled Ghazal:

December 31

In the music hall of the night


Ghulam Ali sings

I’m the singer of lost days …

As the music flows, melting

Urdu with the pangs of separation

Into the soft resonance of Ali’s


A long pent up melody of grief

breaks open the tremulous

window of the harmonium

Inside, the heart reverberates


The tabla of season less years

As Ghulam Ali sings …


Also, this verse of  the  last  Mughal  Emperor of India, Bahadur  Shah  Zafar ( 1775 – 1862),  to give  the required  hope  cum cushioning, as  we move ahead from 2021… :

      Ode to Hindustan

      Matchless is the soil of Hindustan

      In it grow love, compassion, fidelity

      As sure as the sun rises from the East

      So surges from this land sincerity.

      This is the true seed of Hind and from its earth

     These fruits have spread across the world, far and wide.


One response to “With The New Year Unfolding …”

  1. Your web site came up in my research and I’m taken by what you have written on this topic. I am presently extending my enquiry and thus cannot contribute further, nonetheless, I’ve bookmarked your internet access page and will be returning to keep up with any next updates. Just Now love it and gives thank you for tolerating my remark.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *