Sunday, March 13, 2011

A thing called happiness

They often say that happiness is not something you can buy, dispatch or receive. Further, if only happiness were 'available' in stores, there would be long queues with people apprehending a no-stock situation. They also say there are no discounts on a thing called happiness on special days like Christmas or Boxers' Day, Diwali or Akshay Tritiya albeit at times you may bag it free when you invest for another things ( buy -one- get- one ?).

Not always one can find it lying on-the-way. Sometimes, a bit of an extra effort is needed to go (as much required for initial visits to Gymn or going for a morning walk) what may seem out-of-the-way to give and get joy like a pleasant surprise.

No. A complete thing called khushi cannot be 'but an occasional episode' in the general drama of pain. True, it may oft seem to have its finger on the lips bidding adieu but the wholeness, the totality, the aura of ecstatic moments is not something which can be wiped off with movement of time in moments, days, years. It stays on and wakes up at slightest invocation but alas! We believe more in evoking pain, morbidity, melancholy, brooding and revel in their luxury while all the joys sit back and look at us haplessly.

Is it not that our mind gets ‘fixed’ on notions created by ourselves that this- would and that surely would not bring happiness? Many small things that elation consists of get swept off failing our touchstone of pleasure. We may not endorse to it but happiness also believes in giving surprises. Sometimes it just stands before us to hug and tell it loves us. Caught unawares we see its ‘beaded bubbles winking at the brim’. Such a be-mausmi barsat of joy soaks our dry crust, our eyes as well and we inhale it like a deep breath with gratitude feeling the presence that disturbs with elevated thoughts.

Infact we lack the tendency to take joy and all its expressions through smiles, laughter, guffaws or grins seriously. This callous attitude misses out intensity and depth of happiness we tend to associate only with serious (no -nonsense) talk, sadness and gloom.

Happiness flows flawlessly, an easy going thing but we are 'difficult' and become still more difficult with our natural appreciation for clinging to dates associated with past or prospective events, happenings and thereby in equal proportion we mar simple joys by blurring their flow leading to us.

Thanks to all the high tech 21st century and the hand holding gadgets which have facilitated quick recipes to joy. The sixties' Abba “Ring Ring’ is true for sms being 'the happiest sound of the all' but most of us only stand and wait not caring to reach out and acknowledge forgetting that happiness is also in giving as much as in receiving. I think all the ‘sound and fury’ of this business called life, all the ‘getting and spending’ is futile if khushi is elusive and conspicuously absent. We are the least harmful when happy and vice versa.

The Total Woman

She is the most beautiful woman - a total woman. I can vividly recall how I used to keep beholding her mesmerized by her captivating charm. I loved to watch especially her glowing hands –soft, pinkish white after she had washed the clothes, touch them and that sensation sweet which filled me reverberates even now when she puts her hand on mine –her gesture to show she’s there. In childhood, it used to hurt me to see those beautiful hands blackened by the dust with which she cleaned the wares but she would not allow any of her daughters to clean bartan come what might.

Simplicity, grace and dignity are her hallmarks. I don’t think any of us-her seven daughters could ever question her sense of justice or equanimity. She has had her share of suffering, hurts and pain but never did she fail in any of her duties as a wife, a mother or a grand ma. Un-complaining she has carried on without carrying any negativity fondly pursuing her interest in literature. And I bet none of us has read as many books including the Vedas, Puranas .

With her passion for self-respect and dignity of labor, she started working as an agent for the LIC when she was 58. Till date she has pursued her work motivating women in the neighborhood for small savings. Not only she has always earned her livelihood, she cares to send her contribution to Prime Minister’s relief fund whenever a disaster besieged the country besides being regular contributor for education for the disabled or poor girls and to Gaushalas and a number of social activities of the town.

Her zidd to overlook her pain or discomfiture caused her MI. In 1981 When we lost our father, she showed so much of fortitude, gracefully hid her tears and put a bold front before us exhorting us to concentrate on studies reminding us of how Pitaji would not have liked his daughters to be weak-hearted or sad ever. Just after a few days of the tragedy, she wrote me while I was in the hostel to remember: unhe aansuon se nafrat thee, udasi se ghrina. When she lost her eldest daughter-her first officer daughter, her guroor who was like a pivot of our family, we could feel how deeply she had been shocked and shaken. Perhaps that was the turning point in her life. We have never witnessed her complaining to God but she could be seen spending more time than ever before in the worship room in early morning hours and at night. Untimely demise of another daughter and son-in-law further enfeebled her but she has seemed to keep her grief to herself not really sharing in words. At times, a quiver in her voice or involuntary soaking of her eyes before Guruji chokes us but beyond this we have never seen ay display of pain or sorrow.

At 82 she still cherishes fondly the memories of her role model, her saintly mother whose hands had great healing power and is often reminiscent of how her father worked in a shop despite his failing health to enable his daughter to continue her schooling. My father, too, respected her sentiment and she finished her schooling appearing in final matriculation exams from Dev Samaj Boarding school in 1946. Her regret seems to be her inability to pursue further studies and doing college and that personal sense of loss she has abundantly embalmed by ensuring the best of education to all her daughters despite tremendous financial constraints and testing circumstances.
She has always succeeded in making each of us feel special. I often wonder at her incorrigible sixth sense. Whenever I have attempted to hide whatever is bothering me (really I do not know how) she finds the heart of the matter and is around me caring, not asking anything ever just being around me silently understanding. She has always made sure that whenever her grand children care to come, they must get what they love most. When we try to restrain her from working in the kitchen, she finds ways to do the needful in our absence cooking things in bits and parts and only on arrival of Guddu, Sugi, Megha, Varun, Mira, Shivani we find the surprise of their choicest nani ke haath ki bani choorie or pinnies.

She has come a long way from being part of Arya Mahila Paropakarini Sabha, Abohar as it President working for the upliftment of the down trodden women and empowerment of their daughters through vocational education to Saarthak-her brain child- formed in the fiftieth year of independence to inculcate amongst children patriotism and to make enabling interventions for the disabled children; from Badminton playing young member of Ladies Club, Abohar to anonymously contributing her mite in creating community feeling amongst neighbours through weekly satsang . One thing has not changed ever since-her hospitality and her ability to make people feel special with her home made delicacies.

I have not told her often but through this I want to say: ‘I love you, mamma and on this hundredth Woman’s Day, I salute you, the epitome of a total woman’.