Mirror Magazine

Re-living memories of yesteryear
By Lone Star
It was 7.00 p.m. December 31, 2004. I was making my way towards the university grounds to light a candle. This is when it dawned on me how differently I was spending new year’s eve, compared to what I had planned with my friends. By any means don’t think I am complaining about this. That’s the last thing on my mind.

Come to think of it I realised that this was more meaningful than what I had planned. Somehow I thought this new year meant more to me than any other I had spent before. I had a lot to be thankful for. All those misunderstandings, little arguments, and my so-called problems in life, all that looked petty and unimportant. So what if someone really thought badly of you and told people about it, some one did something to hurt your feeling, if everything you seem to be doing is going wrong… who cares? Life goes on. Be thankful for that. And that you still have everyone you care about around you.

In the wake of the tsunami disaster all new year celebrations were cancelled… I really doubt anyone would have been in a mood to celebrate anyway. This year people celebrated new year doing different things with their friends, and most importantly their family.

For many, new year’s eve started off with lighting a candle. Like me, many people were at the university grounds being a part of the “Light a candle for one lost soul… while saving another” project, which saw everyone light a candle, sold at the entrance for Rs.50 in memory of every lost soul. The proceeds of this project went towards the relief, reconstruction, and rehabilitation process of the tsunami victims. Speaking to the organisers of this project they said that they managed to collect over four hundred thousand rupees, which included cash donations. The mood was sombre but it was a lovely setting and as darkness came the candles flickered brilliantly, in remembrance of those who lost their lives as a result of the tsunami. It was a moment when people shared their grief with one another and came together. There were people crying and some were hugging each other glad to have escaped the whole disaster and giving the needed support to those who were affected by it.

This new year ‘family’ seemed to be what was one the mind of many people. Many people had quiet dinners with their families. “It was really a nice feeling to actually dawn new year with people you really do care about,” says Harshi who spent December 31 with her family and a few close family friends. The tragedy had brought together everyone, which was a nice thing to see, and at this point this is something that is important, in order to get through everything that has been happening around us.

New year is also a time when many people opt to make a visit to places of religious worship, to start off the new year with an emphasis on the spiritual… but this year the number of people who were doing this was definitely more than the usual. “I am doing this after a long time,” said one of my good friends who opted to go to church with his parents. As he saw it, praying seemed like a really good idea at a time like this. Nilu, who went to the temple on January 1, says that she felt that she had a lot to be thankful for. “I was thankful that my family and friends were not affected by the tsunami,” she says while adding that she also wanted to spare a thought for everyone affected by the disaster.

For many it was just another day after working hard helping people in the affected areas. Like Shehan for instance who greeted new year in a vehicle. “I was making my way home after taking relief aid with a few of my friends.” It did not even occur to them it was new year until at least half an hour later when some of them started receiving messages on their phones. “It was just like another long and tiring day.”

There were also the few who slept through the whole new year… One of my friends insisted that the only reason he did not message me for new year was because he was fast asleep. Many did not really feel like doing anything, and there were those who had just got back to Colombo after helping out with relief efforts and were too tired to stay up. As in the case of another friend of mine, they were planning on going outstation early hence sleep was the order of the day, considering the long drive that was ahead of them.

Even though some people did celebrate new year in a more festive manner, it was done quietly in more or less a discreet manner. They had private gatherings in their homes, hotel rooms or apartments together with some of their friends. “A friend of mine was staying at one of the hotels and we all just got together there,” says Ranil. Adding that it was not that much of a celebration, all they wanted was to welcome new year with friends they cared about.

With all celebrations taking a back seat at new years, come twelve midnight it was just silence. The usual fire works were not heard or seen… although there were the lone firecrackers in some places. It was calm and quiet, reflecting what everyone was feeling at that moment. Empathy for those affected by the disaster and appreciation for being able to have people they cared about around them.

Yes, new year’s eve did take on a different tone this year. People were closer and more caring towards one another. This definitely is a nice change, and hopefully with all the celebrations that will undoubtedly take place in time to come, the essence of this spirit will remain.


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