It’s that time of year again. Its December, the tail end of the year and in about two weeks time, we will all be saying good-bye to 2012 and welcome to 2013. The Mayan calendar notwithstanding, that is. (Or is it Incan?)
Personally, I am okay with December. Always have been. It’s the month when barely any work at the office gets done and even if there are any, it’s not like the boss wanted it yesterday (the boss also goes on holiday but he never tells you that, does he? or does she?).
And I have always noticed that somehow or rather, in the month of December there is always more time available than usual, to attend to personal or family matters. Christmas shopping (if you celebrate Christmas that is) or for bargains at the many year-end sales happening all over, weddings to attend etc etc etc.
Unless that is if you’re doing last-minute Christmas shopping (last-minute means like Christmas is actually tomorrow!), or the year-end sales ends the day after tomorrow (it can’t all be tomorrow, can it?). Then you will be hard pressed or even frantic for time, and most likely, for choices as well.
It’s also the time when most people would tend to use up whatever annual leave they might have left over, to go off on long-planned holidays. Some of us even just stayed at home and do practically nothing but laze around and watch the idiot box (or is it nowadays, that idiot panel?). Bearing that in mind, it’s a miracle if there is anyone left at the office during the last two weeks of the year.
Some of us may use the time to contemplate or list out our proposed resolutions for the coming New Year, and in the process psyche ourselves up with the determination to see the resolutions through (like haven’t we heard that one before?).
As for yours truly, I have given up on making resolutions as they seldom make it past the first week of the new year anyway. Unless its something general in nature, and I must stress, very general. No specifics. Must have elbow room to manoeuvre, I must.
However, December, being the last month of the year, also bring along its fair share of calamities, be they natural and man-made. Of all the calamities that I have come to know, one of the most heart wrenching and frightening must be the Indian Ocean earthquake tsunami of 2004.
Coming in the aftermath of the massive earthquake that hit Indonesia, it severely affected countries bordering the Indian Ocean namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Sri Lanka, to name but a few of the countries affected, with thousands having perished during the tragedy.
I can still remember the images and the stories that came out in the aftermath of the tsunami. As I said earlier, it is heart wrenching, be they images and stories from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand or even Sri Lanka. That was also the time the word ‘tsunami’ became a word which everybody knew straightaway what it meant and the devastation that it entail. Instant recognition, if there ever was one.
Hopefully, it shall never be repeated but it being a natural disaster, we can never discount it from happening again. But hopefully, should a similar natural disaster happen, the collective WE (meaning the people, the authorities, the scientific communities to name but a few) shall be more prepared and able to contain the damage to just property and not extend to the sad loss of thousands of lives. Hopefully.
In Malaysia, December is also the month when the tragedy of the Highland Towers happened nineteen years ago in 1993, when Block A of the Highland Towers Condominium Complex collapsed like a pack of cards. The collapse, popularly believed to be attributed to the soil movement prompted by the heavy rains as well as nearby development works, took with it the lives of 48 husbands and wives, sons and daughters, including children attending a birthday party at one of the units.
A tragic loss of a life is bad enough, what more when it involves children. Even the family of the former Deputy Prime Minister, Tun Musa Hitam, was not spared. This was one tragedy when even battle hardened rescue personnel had a hard time containing their emotions. Maybe it was telling that the first survivor pulled out from the wreckage was that of an 18-month old baby. Maybe.
The thing is that over time, people forget. Wounds heal. The loss of a loved one replaced. But whatever the lessons that came out from the tragedy of the collapse of Block A, I pray that it is remembered and remembered well. A repeat of the tragedy is too hard to contemplate, and may it never happen again.
In between, there were many other tragedies that happened. Tragedies that makes you wonder, does it only happen in December? And why? The other months of the year also have their fair share of incidents but from my reckoning, it seems that most tragic and sad is always being kept for the end of the year, and that means December.
Some believe it to be ‘the balancing of the books’, an arrangement between Mother Nature and Mankind, to offset all the damage that Mankind has done to Mother Nature. Some believe it to be symbolic of the process of cleansing and rejuvenating Mother Earth and Mankind, in preparation of the times ahead.
Whatever it may be, for my family and I, we have decided to voluntarily limit our movements. It may sound like unwarranted paranoia to some, but from my observation tower, too many tragic incidences have happened as the new year beckons. Too many to ignore or to be mere coincidences, in fact. Sceptics may scoff at the notion but hey, have we ever figured Mother Nature out?
But that doesn’t mean that we can’t make merry as the year comes to a close. By all means, I’d say. But in doing so, please spare a thought and say a prayer for the well-being of our fellow Man.
If the past years have shown, someone somewhere may need them. Either way, it doesn’t hurt, does it?