31st Decembers as I remember

Some people live their lives clinging on to their past. The moments they remember, smile to and wish to relive. That is me. Clinging to the past to never let them go. I have been told to move on, though I have never understood why I should let go of my only cherished precious possession. So I hold the bag of my memories tight, only to reopen them time and again to smell the rain, wet earth, periwinkles, bougainvillaea, dal tadka and a whiff of mom’s perfume. Today morning when I looked at the calendar, a barrage of memories whizzed past. The bag was open. 31st December used to be a much-awaited date, full of excitement and exhilaration.

The day used to begin by planning the evening – dinner menu, cleaning the house, changing the bedding, redecorating the house, deciding what to wear, and finally checking the TV antenna, lest it gives away at the last minute. Even though all this sounds very elaborate, it was one of the simplest celebrations I have been a part of all through my life. As mentioned before, it was also the most anticipated day at the Chaturvedi household. One of the reasons was the impending exams which would begin right after the winter vacations. I distinctly recall 31st Decembers of the years when I was in year 10 and year 12. Preparing for January pre-boards and March boards used to be a 12-16 hour a day affair beginning September – October. Hence the superfluous thrill of 31st December, the day I did not touch any sort of reading material except the fresh crisp morning newspaper

Though mom made sure to prepare all possible delicacies in the world, moongfali patti (peanut and jaggery cakes), tilkut/gajjak/rewdi (different forms of sesame seeds and sugar cakes), and warm peanuts were must-haves. Dinner comprised of paneer and chapatti with basic Indian condiments. I used to plate them all waiting to gobble them in the evening, never before the show started. Ah, the show!!

There were not as many entertainment channels as there are today. Cable TV, which if subscribed to, telecasted a few foreign channels like MTV, Star World, and Discovery Channel. However, the subscription was expensive and not immensely popular. As far as I remember, we did not have the subscription up until 1999. Doordarshan (DD Metro to be precise) used to telecast a 4-hour long entertainment program which used to start at 8 pm and wrapped up just past midnight. The much-sought after-show used to be dominated by performances by Bollywood celebrities and sponsored by all major brands. If TRP ratings would have been popular in those days, this show would be soaring high. However, I digress.

31st was all about waiting for the New Year, new dawn. The final few hours were spent cuddling together on a soft cotton mattress in the living room watching the big final countdown show on a 14” black and white TV, reminiscing the past year. This was my New Year’s Eve. Cherished and tucked nicely, to be buried with me. I will not be exaggerating if I would put it before the London fireworks on New Year’s Eve or Scottish Hogmanay.

2020 is a year most of us would not wish to remember. Nevertheless, do remember how it brought the world together at a time when we were all busy finding our individualities. The year has brought hope. The year has brought us all together. I sincerely wish it stays like this forever making it possible for us to remember 2020 as the year of love.

Do you have any special memories of New Year’s Eve? Do share with me!

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