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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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