Wednesday January 22 2014

When the new year cannot be celebrated


The night of December 31st is one filled with extreme euphoria. Fireworks, parties holy and otherwise, fill the air. It is something as if to say, “We have been through a lot and finally this comes to an end.” Even news channels, not wanting to be outdone, go with the flow, airing festivities starting at 4pm on New Year’s Eve (Australia crosses about that time, our time). Just for this night and the morning after, the world’s hunger and war problems can wait.

Yet for some (me inclusive), that was far from the case. As a matter of fact, it was tragic for some in the Philippines. A two-year-old boy was killed at midnight by a stray bullet that came from one of the guns of the night’s unscrupulous revellers.

Before you gasp in horror, in the same country, as a family decided to cross their year in the confines of their family home, another such bullet struck through their roof and into the crib of their three-month-old baby, instantly killing the child. All they could celebrate was the short-lived life of their child.

This time last year, my family and I literally walked the same dark path that the unfortunate Philippine family trod. As the cheers and greetings of “Happy New Year” swarmed through phones, TVs and all other media man cannot live without, we were at a deathbed, praying that the life of our grandmother Petua be spared.

For some reason, God must have heard us the last three months of 2012 because, although she was in critical condition, she managed to breathe, even murmur, times I certainly will not forget.
Unfortunately, the cheer of “happy new year” was just not enough to sustain her any longer and on the afternoon of the 1st, she breathed her last.

And yes, it was a difficult time. However, society’s make believe of that change of year digits made it criminal for us to truly appreciate our sorrow, let alone share it. For the caring nurse she was, she had the quietest of funerals because her former beneficiaries were too busy eating away at the “new year”.

Lessons as a family
Yet, even then, we chose to look at it differently. She had done her part and left a legacy of service; one we were to live up to. Her son, my uncle, determined to make 2013 the year he stamped completion of her last wish, that he served God actively and that we all dedicated our lives to God’s service. It would suffice to add that 2013 was the year he started a church under the family ministry.

I, on the visitor’s book in her ward in Mulago, vowed to make it big as a writer for her. It was as if pain had written our resolutions, and our passion fulfilled them. I was never one to write resolutions but last year’s pain, not festivity, taught me to.
Who said ushering in the new year should be a celebration? Isn’t the same wild festivity the reason some are mourning? This year, for me, started on a low key, one that robbed me of my inspiration. It took a lot of self-pep talk and music to pen this.
That said; let it be that my first piece speaks for those who suffer in times like these. Not everything new, even a year, must be cause to celebrate. All it ought to birth is hope.