“The turtle which doesn’t have a shell is homeless or naked?” is sure one of the most mind boggling questions for me! The next being “What makes ME happy?”
Well probably when I was an infant, sleeping 22 out of 24 hours and driving my Ma bonkers with endless changes of nappies made me extremely happy.
When I was 6, turning up school on my birthday, wearing my new pink frock; watching Jerry make life hell for Tom and not getting caught while playing Hide and Seek was enough to emulate euphoria.
But as I grew up, I realized that, it wasn’t me but the people around me who defined what happiness should mean to me!
When I entered school, they said getting 90%, representing school in the extracurricular stuff and winning it too, is absolute bliss. Which I did. But, I wasn’t happy because I really was, but because my life was proving to be an exact fit for the pre-conceived notion of happiness!
Next was college. They said getting admission in a reputed college and the most coveted course is the happiest option around. I made it to one of the best. I chose Bsc (hons) Microbiology not because I wanted to do it, but, because it was big deal to get in to Gargi college, DU which had a cutoff of over 90% and there was never ever a second cut-off list in its history.
Masters was the next threshold. I got through AIIMS. Period.
Following step up the ladder was a PhD. Am doing it. Right here. Right now.
In principle, am bestowed with all the happiness in the world.
For all the years bygone, people defined “happiness” for me. But the paradox remains that I was never able to define the “people” who defined it for me.
Now that I’m sitting in a different continent, away from my home, I might not be able to write a book on “1001 things that make you happy”, but I sure do know what’s enclosed within my bracket of happiness.
Happiness for me is waking up to the fresh fragrance of Nariyal-Poha, on a lazy Sunday morning, with Ma howling in the background and Papa snoring in the next room.
It’s about cracking the most morose PJs on this planet, with my sisters being the partner in crime and laughing until our stomach starts aching, our lungs grasp for air and tears dwell in our eyes.
It’s about making the 1st chapati and literally dragging Papa off his chair, while he is watching Aaj Tak to testify that indeed its round and puffed upto perfection.
It’s in the warm embrace of my siblings, which I crave for, now that I sleep alone.
It’s pestering Ma for that 6th cup of hot Adrak-Chai on a cold December evening and asking her for tips on how to patao the new hunk down the block, while she is brewing it.
Its about shaping up those lovely gujiyas, stealing them from the dabbas and finishing half of them before Holi .
It’s in wearing that 1st saree on Durga poojo, securing it with 99 pins and asking Ma if she had the 100th one.
Happiness is nothing but in the sweetness of that spoonful of doi-cheeni that Ma would make me eat before every exam or the cloying kishmish in her payesh, which she makes on my birthday, a ritual she follows even in my absence.
It lies in those seldom walks with Papa and the realization that all this while I underestimated his terrific sense of humor and there is so much more to him than just being a patriarch figure in the family.
It’s in those insane fights with my sisters as to who got the biggest piece of chocolate, even if it was 1mm more than mine or those preposterous exchange of dialogues like "Tune meri T-shirt kyun pehni? Dekha na loose ho gayi!!” and me wearing it again the next day to initiate World War III and later manaoing her by getting her favourite Mother Diary icecream.
Happiness is in acceptance of the fact, that at 14 years of age, my sister is more techno savvy than Iam possibly at 23 or that she has a vocab that would give Salman Rushdie a run for his life! (I hope Mr.Rushdie isn’t reading this…Please don’t sue me..Bahut gareeb hoon main!!!)
Its about getting painted allover with my birthday cake, courtesy nalayak dost. The rocking over 100 km/ hr ride on Rahul’s new bike and the comforting, reassuring hug of Shivi while I was leaving India(both are my chaddi buddies).
It’s about, being dragged out of my home, drenched with keechad water and smudged with all life threatening colors possible and of course grease, on Holi, which made me look like a walking-talking piece of modern art straight out of an art gallery, for the next 10 days.
It’s about that warm smile from a 90 year old chubby granny whom I offered a seat in the bus, that bear-hug from the institute cleaning lady(Anne')whom I embarrassed with my broken Deutsch (and in the process, made a gross-public-mockery of myself too!!) or that genuine ' Thank you' from Parisa (my Iranian friend, colleague and room mate) for cutting down the spices in the Indian khana I especially made for her.
In a nutshell, what I have realized is that happiness is not something I can find inside an 11th floor posh city apartment, a 7 figure salary cheque or at the back seat of a Mercedes Benz car. (Not that money isn’t important, but it definitely can’t buy me happiness).
It isn’t something as dogmatic as sitting down with a piece of paper and writing what’s expected of me and on accomplishment of which I’m entitled to be happy. I can spend the rest of my searching for perfect happiness but still not find it.
My quest for happiness ends within ME. It’s not the big things in life which make me happy. It’s the small chunnu munnu stuff that does the magic!
Happiness for me is in knowing that there is possibly nothing new under the sun but there are lot of old things that I don’t know and need to discover. Happiness is preaching that no doubt silence is golden but shouting is hell fun!
Happiness is just being ME, for this is what people all the years have loved (0.1%) or hated (99.9%) me for and that they never be disillusioned or disappointed,because, they hated me for what I am and not loved me for what I wasn’t.
And above all happiness for me is thanking God for everything. Awesome parents, beautiful siblings, handful but friends for a lifetime and the wisdom to count my blessings each passing day, for not doing so would tantamount to a big “Thank you not” to God for what I’m today.