The Lunchbox Year

Sunday, 29 December 2013 - 10:46am IST | Agency: DNA
In the last week of the year, Malavika Sangghvi bids goodbye to 2013.
  • Ravi Jadhav DNA

Dear Year 2013,

It’s unusual to address a year in a letter, I know, but I feel I have come to know you as a friend. After all, it’s been almost 365 days — enough to foster a tenuous familiarity you will concede. Because like a relative whose presence in the house changes from a grudging acceptance to a new found affection, you too have earned a place in my heart.

But looking back at your track record, I can’t quite put a finger on why I like you in the first place. I mean, besides a few flashes in the pan, you’ve been a pretty nondescript year, haven’t you?

Mercifully, the flashes in the pan haven’t all been an annual haul of disasters and accidents.
Besides the Boston marathon bombings, the Australian bush fires, the stadium collapse in Dhaka, the flash floods in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh and the typhoon in Philippines, there have also been births, anointments, victories and triumphs. Like the awarding of the Nobel Prize for Literature to Alice Munro — that unmatched architect of the short story, the birth of the bonny Prince George of Cambridge to the British royals and the triumph of the Aam Aadmi Party in the Delhi State Elections, a feat so improbable that it gave rise to a collective chuckle even amongst the most cynical within the electorate.

These were your moments, albeit a few and far between, but there all the same — the things that endeared you to us, made us smile through our dreary lives.

But of course, every year brings in its list of losses and you were the year we lost some cherished people — on the world stage, and in our personal lives too. You were the year in which world statesman like Nelson Mandela, Margaret Thatcher and Hugo Chavez, writers like Ruth Prawer Jhabvala and singers like Richie Havens departed the stage, and took their place in the legion of greats souls in the sky. But on my own personal stage, you were the year in which I lost a dear friend, a man of great wisdom and charm, whose loss I feel more acutely with every passing day.

 But this letter is not to criticise you or praise you, but to bid you goodbye, to give you a decent send-off and to bury you with honour. And for that, first, I must name you. What should we call you, dear 2013, so that we can remember you with ease?

Were you the Year of Surprise — when a ragtag bunch of edgy activists seized power in an improbable and feisty fight with authority, as did Kejriwal and his cohorts?

Were you the Year of the Gender war — when women, already pushed to the wall with violence, harassment and rape, fought back by raising their voice against gender violence from every pulpit they could find?

Were you the Year of LGBT activism — when for the first time, not only voices from within the LGBT community but a tsunami of mainstream protests joined the battle against article 377 and the unfortunate judgment to re-criminalise homosexuality?

Or were you the Year of the TV debate — when night after night the likes of Times Now’s Arnab Goswami, Headline Today’s Rahul Kanwal and NDTV’s Barkha Dutt took the national debate on issues and events one notch higher, involving the ordinary citizen in a narrative so illuminating and important that it by passed the parliament completely, rendering it almost redundant?

You were all these things and more, Year 2013, but for me you were the year of The Lunchbox — a small film that came from nowhere, won our hearts and smiles, championed the cause of the ordinary citizen and garnered much appreciation. So that’s what I’m going to call you, dear 2013, The Lunchbox Year.

But lunch boxes, however satisfying, are not the end all of dining, so now that you are almost gone, let’s hope 2014 will be the Year of the Great Buffet!

Au revoir
, goodbye, thank you and RIP.

Yours sincerely etc

Malavika Sangghvi
The writer believes in the art of letter writing


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