Tomorrow’s another day

Hope is a dear word, wish is dearer and achievement is the dearest. While we all hope to get the best in the beginning of every year and wish for the particular something, achieving them becomes an uphill task. Nonetheless, we strive. Sunday Shillong went on a blind search to know what are on the list of miscellaneous ‘unfulfilled’ wishes and how people are striving to achieve them.
Strangers were intrigued, distracted, disturbed, curious, annoyed and enraged but we lived up to our resolution and coaxed words out of them to prepare a concise list of the unachieved. Disillusion dominated but as the Great Bard said, “Action is eloquence”. And the eloquent strangers pledged to act, no matter how difficult the road is.
Jagdishwar Rai was surprised when a stranger with a notebook asked him which happy tide he missed this year. While his companion was struggling to sync in the words, Rai was quick to recuperate from the jolt and explained the question to his elderly friend and immediately started speaking his heart out. All he wished in 2017 was to get a job for his 21-year-old son.
The 57-year-old father, who works as a security guard at Pine Mount School, sounded worried for his science graduate son. “Jobs are scarce these days. But both of us are trying hard to achieve our goal. If things go well and God blesses, then I hope my son will get employment as per his qualification,” his wrinkles and knitted brows relaxed as he ended his answer with a smile.
Another father, Ajay Mahato, who is a mobile tea vendor, was also worried about the security of his children who live in West Bengal where Mahato is originally from. He was waiting for customers when he was accosted. As he served tea, which many consider the best ‘lal chai’ in the area, he revealed his plan to build a house so that his family “does not have to think about a roof above their head”.
“I could not start the house in my village this year for several reasons, finance being the most important one. But I hope next year I can start construction,” he said.
But Beatris Bohthang has a simple wish yet she did not know when it would be fulfilled. The woman in her sixties wants to retire from her 50-year-old business of selling kwai and cigarettes in front of civil hospital.
“My children have all grown up and settled. One of my sons is in the police force while the other works in the cantonment. My daughter is also married and looks after the house. So that way I am free but I am getting old and want to take rest. However, this business is an old one and I don’t want to give it up as this has been my only source of income. I want someone from the family to take over. That has been my wish for a long time but it is yet to be fulfilled,” the woman from Lawsohtun said.
A middle-aged onlooker near the hospital’s main gate volunteered to speak. He said resolution for New Year is quite an elite concept and for daily wage earners even hoping for a better future is an “expensive affair”. “For us sustenance is important. I have been trying for financial help for my daughter’s higher studies and still could not get any help. Aasha phir bhi rakhte hai (we still hope though),” said Raju Singh who has been working as a daily wage earner for the last 15 years.
The profundity of Singh’s words was proved as random interviews yielded same answers. Money and security ruled the list of wishes of small-time traders, taxi drivers, roadside vendors, manual workers and low rung government employees.
Even after all the despair and rejection there is no dearth of audacity of hope. Like 21-year-old Phrangki Phawa who has a petty job at a local guest house. The youngster from Saphai village in Jaintia Hills does not want to give up on his wish to complete higher secondary and has made it his raison d’etre.
“I am the eldest of the five siblings two of whom are still in junior classes. Both my parents are unwell and cannot work regularly. I thought it was my duty to support them and so I dropped out of school but I want to get education so that I can do a better and respectable job,” said a shy Phawa.
Chatra Bhujel, who is of the same age as Phawa, showed similar conviction when he talked about his problems at home. However, the young driver who works with a private company in the city was reticent about details and only said he wanted to get a better job to support his parents. “I have completed studies only till Class III and don’t know how to continue. All I know is that I have to struggle to achieve the impossible,” he added. His work for the day was over and it was dark already.
For teenager Kyrshan Lyngdoh, life is all about work and no play. The Class XI student of Seng Khasi College, who is an orphan, does not know where his siblings are and stays with a distant uncle. He works in a small eatery in the evening after attending morning classes. “It is difficult to dream or even hope for a better life. For all these years, I have only thought about completing my school and getting into army. I will fulfil that,” said the 19-year-old. His innocent face does not reveal the grit in him.
As the randomness continued, real resolutions to survive another year came to the fore. Elbina Nongkhlaw, a domestic help from Mawlai Mawroh, does not want to give up her fight against the government for a life of dignity and security. “We have been fighting for better wages so that our children can get education and proper food. Justice has eluded us so far but we are hoping for the best next year,” said the mother of three.
With election round the corner, the common man, which also has a politically powerful synonym, aam aadmi, is hoping for better days and wishing to see a government for the people. Banjop Lyngdoh Nonglait of Nongstoin is a common man. Nonglait works as a fee collector at the parking lot behind Shani Mandir and has been trying to get a government job. “I have already tried this year but in vain. But I will prepare myself better and try again next year. If nothing happens, I will start my own business,” said the handsome young man of 27.
The monotony of struggle gave way to variety on the list as the microphone was passed on to people from the privileged section. They have financial security and food on the table and ample time to focus on things beyond the basic amenities.
Herald Tham, an engineer and IIT alumnus, wants to start writing. He wants to author a textbook on Mathematics for students in the state.
“I also want to translate works of Soso Tham and thought of starting it this year but could not make time. Next year, I am going to reschedule my engagements and focus on my books,” said Tham.
Karan Mordani, director of Gold Gym, said his resolution for 2017 was to reduce stress. “But I could achieve only 50 per cent and the reason was increase in work pressure and a new project,” confessed Mordani, who is looking forward to doing a balancing act in 2018 with the help of yoga, meditation and exercise.
For many youngsters, like Alicia Phanwar and Jenny Nongkynrih, resolutions for New Year are nothing but “a way to convince ourselves that, indeed, the new year can bring change, a glimpse of hope, for many”. And they are convinced.
“My resolution for this year is to avoid procrastination, to be content with my way of life, my family, my friends and the love around me. We often tend to overlook the small things, and for me, 2018 will be the year of appreciating those things, however small they may be. It would do a lot of good for my own well being and help me to stop focusing on things I know won’t materialise quickly, but to simply be content… and everyday I understand myself better,” says Phanwar, a student.
That is all a passing year does, makes one wiser to understand oneself better. With every unfulfilled wish, one understands how much conviction and hard work are required to achieve the goal. It enlightens and prepares one for a bigger purpose.
A year does not end in dejection, instead a new year starts with dauntlessness and hope. As Scarlett O’Hara said at the end of the classic Gone With The Wind, “Tomorrow is another day”.