The past three years have been exhausting and frustrating. When COVID-19 swamped the country and the world, I wanted to be done with it. I thus ended 2020 with the hope that 2021 would bring better news. But 2021 only carried forward 2020 to much worse heights.
All bad things, however, must come to an end, and so I ended 2021 with the hope that, despite the ominous signs to the contrary, at least 2022 would be better.
Boy, was I wrong.
To put it mildly, nothing prepared me for this year. It’s not just that my generation hadn’t lived through what we underwent — shortages, queues, protests, the toppling of governments, the ever-fertile hopes of a “system” change — until then. It’s that we were hurtled from one crisis to another, with no pause or intermission, and no breathing space, in-between.
As far as demands for system and regime change went, there are those of us who think we achieved what we felt we wanted and those of us who think we didn’t. Yet, either way, 2022 was more eventful than the COVID-19 infested 2020 and 2021 ever were, or could be. There was much anger, frustration, hatred — much vengeance, too — but there was also much healing, hope, amity, togetherness.
In the larger scheme of things, this is not a year I would want to forget. Nor is it a year I will forget. But it is a year I never want to see again. I will not say things are better compared to a year ago. Some of us are better off than others and most of us are worse off than the few who say we have no reason to complain. I think that calls for a constant evaluation of where we are, what we are doing, and how we can all improve our situation, in solidarity. This is the only sentiment that can guide us through the next year.
Speaking for myself, I must confess that I underwent a dramatic change this year. Some of you contributed to that change. You know who you are. All I can say is, thank you for constantly pushing me, taking me out of my comfort zone, making me question my limits, and getting me to see things from a different perspective.
Over the years I have tried my best to teach many of you. But the pendulum has always swung back: I have ended up being taught by you. For that, as always, I am grateful.
As we end this year and embark on the next, I would like to post a photo, taken at Galle Face on July 12, the day before our former president evacuated his post. To me it symbolises not just the year that was, but also the year that may never again be, and never again return — for good reason.
All in all, this was an extraordinary 12 months. Nothing epitomises that for me than this image, and the people in it.
Wishing you a Happy New Year. And more importantly, a BETTER New Year.