What a year 2002 has been

 

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Category: Reflections Date: 05 Jan 03

 

2002 was for me a troubling but invaluable year. It has taught me that our human resilience stretches to encompass illness, death, and trauma, and it drew to a close with a surge of tremendous happiness. The fog I thought would never clear, cleared. The corners I felt backed into developed doors unto the freedom of the outdoors.

 

But Guardian readers have these past eight years endured a torrent of words from this columnist and this first column of 2003 is a collection of their voices responding to an e-mail question: What was the single event that had the biggest impact on your lives in 2002?

 

“I packed up my life into several cargo boxes and moved to Trinidad to live.”

 

“The birth of my grandson!”

 

“Starting my own small business!”

 

“The releases of new joint pop and Orange Sky albums and André Tanker’s song, (Ben Lion.)”

 

“The collective impotence at the “World Summit on Sustainable Development” in Johannesburg.”

 

“Taking my eight-year-old granddaughter travelling to the Lake District, Bergen and Oslo.”

 

“Getting married on July 27 in Tobago. I flew in from the UK two weeks before the wedding. With the help of friends and family in Tobago it was organised within a week, with no nightmare scenarios, no last-minute hitches. The wedding was everything we had always dreamed of. It reminded me in this large unforgiving world we live in, how much a small bunch of good friends are worth, regardless of how far away they live.

“Even if you don’t see them for years, they are your support and the foundation on which you stand. It also reminded me that declaring your love for another person in what is one of the most important commitments in your life is not about spending an obscene amount of money, and inviting 300 guests you barely know. It’s about facing your partner and God and letting them know you are committing yourselves to building a family together.”

 

“For us as a Trini couple living in London and working in the financial district it would be the falling stock markets, general adverse situation of the markets from factors such as the collapse of WorldCom.”

 

“For me it was deciding to train for the marathon, having never been athletic in my entire life and realising once you commit to doing something you find the discipline and the will to go on. Hopefully this will translate into other areas of my life. ”

 

“Bush and his war on Iraq. The fallout on this will affect international relations for at least another five to ten years. In some ways an actual war on Iraq could have the same impact as the crumbling of the Berlin wall.”


“Pretzels”

 

“The fact that Israel has violated over 20 UN resolutions as far back as we can remember and no one has even mentioned it, or the murders that have been committed by the Israeli Government in the last 20 years.”


“A renewed friendship”

 

“The genocide of Muslims in Gujarat affected me deeply. It made me realise how vulnerable we are as Muslims in India but Hindu friends who have stood by us make us hopeful for a secular India. ”

 

“My bypass operation followed by coronary arrest as well the recovery process which is not yet complete. I will know it is complete when I can play 18 holes of golf!”

 

“Realising that Viagra has its place in the pantheon of useful modern conveniences — like microwave ovens, credit cards, and e-mail. You didn’t really need it but it was useful and efficient at times.”


“Finding out my wife was expecting our baby!”

 

“Hiring a CEO for our company. Good leaders always plan properly for succession.”

 

“The verbal violence during the electoral campaign leading up to the general election in October 2002 which demonstrated the ugly racist underbelly of our country’s politics. People in offices and on the streets gave voice to venom and hatred that brought home the reality of the fragility of this island paradise, shattering my treasured Trini innocence and parallel only to the 1990 Muslimeen coup attempt.

“At a time when many innocent citizens are experiencing, first-hand, the brutality of crime, kidnappings and murder, our politicians have failed us. They have set the platform for a kind of rhetoric that is misguiding a nation and weakening its spirit.

“Where is the healing? We need a new breed of selfless politicians born in a reformed, constitutional culture that allows the life of the citizens and the soul of the nation to come before the politics.”

 

“It’s a year of getting used to having my father in my head and heart. Sometimes I forget he died in January. I have an ever-deepening sense that ‘real’ is not only what is not, only what is here and now, what I can see, but very much what I feel and what lives in my memory.. it’s taken me all year to recover from a radical hysterectomy surgery. The change is both physical and psychic.

“So 2002 has been a year of healing, of deepening, radical change in my attitude to life and people, in appreciating one day at a time, sometimes one hour, one ten minute, one moment.”

 

The responses conducted on e-mail came from a tiny percentage of people who live in democratic, war-free worlds with access to education, health-care and career opportunities.

 

I suspect it would have taken a very different turn had I held a mike to the 14 million facing starvation in Ethiopia and Eritrea, or the families of the butchered in Gujarat, young men preparing for war in the Gulf or children who will never make it to school.

 

But these voices are important because they represent all our fears and triumphs, are as varied as human beings, and as universal.

 

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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur