This is the year that was ...

This is the year that was ...

So ends another year. So is one more year taken from our lives. So are we informed, in so many words, that this ancient planet we inhabit and the souls inhabiting our corporeal beings are all headed for the twilight.

That is an idea not to be contested, for it is the law of nature which perpetually defines movement --- of life, of human action, of history --- as the years roll through the seasons and our world, part of the galaxies, forges ahead to meet the last sunset of the year.

Every year ends on a note of reflection. How has the world fared in the twelve months which now must give way to a fresh new consignment of a year? Like every year we have walked or struggled through in life, 2022 has had its mix of the good, the bad and the ugly. It is always that way with time.

The Ukraine war has taken a toll of all of us, in nearly every region of the globe. Vladimir Putin perhaps did not foresee the ramifications of the war he initiated in February. And they are? For starters, the comedian who was elected to Ukraine's presidency has turned into an embattled and improbable symbol of national resistance to foreign aggression.

That is how human conflict, on the fields of war, changes human perceptions of life, causes so much horror, and raises men to heights of heroism. But no heroism underlay the violence pitting Abiy Ahmed's Ethiopia against the Tigrayan rebels. Thousands died, as the Addis Ababa-friendly Eritrean, Issaias Afewerki, watched from Asmara. It was a pointless conflict. But then, conflicts rarely have a point. Note the hapless Palestinians. Governments have come and gone in Israel, but these Palestinians have gone on nursing their insistently raw wounds.

And pain has wormed its way into the economy, global as also local. Britain, despite its five prime ministers in six years, struggles to push back the rise in the cost of living. Rishi Sunak is having a tough time getting things back on track. And he is not alone. In Europe, beyond Europe, economies have been in free fall. Observe Sri Lanka, where People Power removed a corrupt band of brothers, in the form of the Rajapaksas, when money and essential goods vanished from the markets.

Sri Lanka became a warning to other nations, to the effect that they were expected to do everything Colombo did not and so keep the deluge of destruction at bay. Not that the effort was always successful, but Sri Lanka was a sign, a warning, of an impending apocalypse. Nations on every continent panicked when Sri Lanka happened. A common fear brought humanity together --- that the world needed to be saved.

It begs the question: Can the world be saved from the ravages of men and wild nature? COP-27 was a gala affair at Sharm el Sheikh, but that did not help any. Carbon emission goes on unabated, promised money to help poor nations tackle the misery consequent on developed world-based industrial activity did not materialise. Pledges made, arguments flying back and forth, a watered down deal did not make the world a better place.

And politics? In Pakistan, an irate Imran Khan fulminated against the establishment, a euphemism for the military. Thrown out of office by the military and an opportunistic cabal of politicians, Khan went back to his container, announced marches on Islamabad and then retreated. Coups happened in Africa with alarming frequency; and the one in Myanmar locked away Aung San Suu Kyi in a remote region, piling her with punishment for a range of crimes she obviously did not commit.

Election deniers, coronavirus deniers and climate change deniers have had a hard time. Donald Trump and his MAGA tribe suffered humiliation everywhere; Jair Bolsonaro was turfed out of office by that old political beast Luis Inacio Lula da Silva in Brazil. Mohammad bin Salman was permitted to claw back to respectability, somewhat, by men of the kind of Joe Biden. Jamal Khashoggi was forgotten.

Julian Assange's troubles eased not at all even as Edward Snowden obtained Russian citizenship. An Israeli sharpshooter silenced the brave Shireen Abu Akleh. And MahsaAmini died in a Tehran prison when Iran's guardians of morality obsessed about the placement of the scarf on her head. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe made her way home after years of being in Iran's grip. Afghan women went off the world's radar with the Taliban decreeing a rude stop to their education and employment.

But, yes. Good things did happen in the year. The James Webb Space Telescope pushed off into space and embarked on an endless odyssey into the depths of the universe. Artemis-1 lifted off, to orbit around the moon in preparation for manned journeys reminiscent of the exciting 1960s. Talk of explorations of Mars began to be heard rather insistently.

India elected DroupadiMurmu its president. As the year drew to a close, the old Fijian coup-maker Sitiveni Rabuka took over as prime minister yet one more time. Bangladesh celebrated the inauguration of a bridge across the mighty Padma. Xi Jinping found it pretty easy to get elected as China's paramount leader for a third term, while Kaies Saeed stifled democracy in Tunisia.

Angela Merkel went into retirement as Olaf Scholz took over as Germany's new leader. In Malaysia, Anwar Ibrahim finally made it to prime ministerial office as Malaysians rebuked Mahathir Mohamed by ensuring he lost the election. Emmanuel Macron went into a second term as French president by beating the far-right's Marine Le Pen. Italy saw a far-right government led by the young GiorgiaMeloni take office. Leftists won a string of elections in Latin America.

The long-reigning Elizabeth II died in the year, to be succeeded by her son Charles. Perestroika man Mikhail Gorbachev passed away in Russia, forgotten and ignored. Shinzo Abe was assassinated in Japan. The son of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos was elected to the Philippine presidency. Salman Rushdie came under assault, the bruises suffered removing him from the public eye.

Science came to the fore in light of the maladies piling pressure on government for a solution to the coronavirus. The battle against omicron, delta, monkey pox and dengue went on, laboratories remaining busy. Elon Musk took over Twitter.

Ceaseless rains caused death and destruction in Pakistan's Balochistan province and in other parts of the globe. Forest fires consumed nature in America and Europe. On rickety boats, refugees made their way to what they thought were safer shores. Hope of a return home eluded the Rohingyas in their camps in Bangladesh.

And thus passes a year into the ages. Thus sinks the sun for the last time in the year. A familiar greyness seeps into the soul and across the horizon.

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