“Happiness or celebrations do not need a moment, Maalkin,” said Ramu Kaka to the elder daughter-in-law.
“So now you will enlighten me about true happiness Ramu, ” she said. A husband in bed with a fracture, mother-in-law who is ill, a daughter who is not getting a good tutor, and a son who is ever busy with friends.”
“Moreover, not even a year has passed since Bauji’s death, so there are no celebrations for the coming Teej festival. The situation doesn’t permit me to go out anywhere or meet my friends and on top of that here you are telling me how to be happy.”
“Just look at Shobhna, she always finds a reason to just go out, enjoy her weekends, roams around, has fun, and happily lead her life.”
“And I am always busy practicing the rituals here, just waiting for some happy moment to come in my life too.”
“Well forget about that, you came to say something, tell me what’s the matter.”
“Badi Maalkin, I don’t know whether it’s appropriate to ask for it or not but my wife has been on a fast for the past ten days and today is the last day her and she wishes for you to come to do the aarti.”
“Okay Ramu, I will definitely come in the evening”, Shobhana closed the door and headed towards the kitchen.
Quickly wrapping up all the work and calling the driver, she got ready and left for Ramu’s house.
A short distance away, near a traffic signal, a woman sitting on a torn mattress was cooking food on a stove, and both her children were playing nearby. Her smile expressed her happiness to see them both happily playing together.
“Now tell me what is the reason for her smile. This idiot should be worried about not being able to teach her children”, she murmured to herself.
Thinking that Diwali was just around the corner she asked her driver to stop the car and got down to give her some money.
“What’s this money for, ma’am,” the woman asked.
“Diwali is coming, if you don’t get crackers and sweets for the children, how will you celebrate and make them happy. Keep it and buy some good clothes and sweets for them. You will feel happy”, she said.
“But ma’am, my children and I are happy anyway and one can’t keep on waiting for Diwali to celebrate. For us every dawn brings its share of happiness”, the woman replied.
“Today my son has learnt a poem from his teacher madam in school, look how happy he is, reciting it again and again. And Yes, with this money I will buy good shoes for him. He is fond of running. So it will be a help”, said the woman.
After giving her the money, she went back to her car. The car stopped a short distance from Ramu’s house. The road ahead was narrow, so she had to go on foot.
In the third house on the left, “Babuji, you have given me a lot of happiness today.”
“What happiness comes with his Dad’s early arrival. How does time matter, I fail to understand”, murmured she.
Further, after she had travelled a short distance, the smell of puris being fried was coming from that house on the right.
“Oh Ma, how happy I am, today you cooked my favorite food”, came a child’s voice from inside.
After she covered some more distance, some children were playing carrom in one house. Due to a strike on the pink disk, one of the children jumped as if a treasure had been won.
She wondered about the giggles and laughter of those children living under such conditions.
Witnessing these events, she reached Ramu’s house.
“Sheela, so what for this fasting and worship. Some good news”, she asked Ramu’s wife.
“Oh no, maalkin, it’s just that everything’s going well, so I thought I should thank Mother Divine. Moreover, since a year hasn’t been completed since Ramu’s mother’s death, hence no festival can be celebrated, so I thought of giving everybody a feast under this pretext. The children too will feel happy on seeing you come for the pooja,” said Sheela.
“Happiness due to my coming to your house”, she asked.
“Why not Maalkin, the children have almost forgotten everything since morning and are preparing for your arrival. They are so excited thinking that today’s mother divine will be worshipped by you. Look how bright the house is looking today”, Sheela replied.
“This dim light seems bright to you, Sheela,” she asked.
“It is up to us Maalkin to imagine whether this light around us is shining or is it darkness surrounding us.”
After performing the pooja, Shobhana returned back home.
The driver stopped the car halfway on one side and asked, “Madam, can I please buy a gajra (garland for hair bun), as my wife feels very happy putting these flowers in her hair.”
“Ya go buy it, you have the right to be happy too”, said she.
From a makeshift room adjacent to an under-construction multi-storey highrise, she heard a couple talking. The husband and wife were supposedly sitting and talking about their day.
“I am very happy today, mother-in-law has mentioned my name in the letter today,” said the wife while baking the bread.
“In your smile, my life’s happiness is hidden dear,” replied the husband.
“Listen, from the money that the contractor has given today, just bring a toffee for Munni, she will feel very happy”, said the wife.
In the meantime, the driver brought the gajra for his wife.
“Listen, will you go buy a gajra for me too?”, she said.
The driver brought it quickly.
After reaching home, she took a bath and went to the lawn.
The rays of the cool moonlight, the smell of flowers, the rustling of leaves.
She also witnessed a shooting star in the star-filled sky today. And seeing that star, she asked for blessings of happiness.
Sitting on the swing, smiling softly, she was thinking about why she never felt like this before?
The happy faces of those people were still flashing before her eyes. After spending time on that star-studded mesmerizing night for a long time, she came in.
Prakash, her husband, was fast asleep. Gudiya, her daughter, was busy with maths problems and was trying hard to solve the questions.
Soham, her son, was busy studying physics on zoom interaction with his friends.
In the meantime, Shobhna also came back home. “What did you do tonight”, she asked her lovingly.
Shobhna shuddered a little, then said nothing much Di, took a short walk on the beach, enjoyed some snacks, and then this, my favorite paan.
“Will you like to eat paan, Shobhna asked hesitatingly.”
“Ya sure, why not”, she replied warmly.
Both of them sat outside on the lawn and talked a lot, maybe for the first time today.
“Come on, it’s quite late now, let’s go to sleep”, she said and went into her room.
After she woke up in the morning and took a bath, she put the gajra she had bought the previous night in her hair.
She then helped Prakash, her husband to the temple and performed the morning aarti with him.
After finishing the puja, she served breakfast with her own hands and then said to Gudiya, her daughter, “Come to me with your books, today onwards I will solve all your maths problems .”
Prakash was surprised to see all this. She, who had been so irritable for the past so many days, was so happy today as if she had found some lost treasure.
He just asked, “What’s the matter, you are looking very happy today.”
She replied, “So should I sit waiting for a chance to be happy and waste these little moments waiting for me to be happy.”
We normally keep waiting for occasions like festivals, parties, weddings, birthdays, etc. to celebrate happiness and while waiting for them, we lose those myriad small moments of happiness, in the pursuit of happiness…
She learned this very important lesson while visiting Ramu’s house. Let’s learn too.