“bhaiyya!!! do cup cutting chai dena!”
(can I have two cups of tea)
And with that request, I sat on the bench that lay on the sodden earth. The atmosphere was eerily quite, beset with chirpings from sweet birds. Coming out from their nests, they moved about in the free air, happily scurrying about to gather a few more scraps of food. The nose was saturated with the pleasant smell of wet dirt. Patches of green had sprung up defying gravity. It felt simply happy to be sitting here.
A distant figure came into the picture, my eyes noticing as it tried to jump puddles and find its way around. Finally coming closer, I saw that it was a young girl, probably going home from school. She looked across at me and I motioned her to come over. Looking suspicious, but complying, she hopped and came to sit beside me.
I asked her, “chai logi?” (will you have some tea?) and she looked even more suspiciously at me. I said, “I just promised that I’ll share a cup of tea with whoever came here first”. She just gave me a weird look. Maybe she took me for a crazy person!
“Why?” she asked of me.
“Well, today is too beautiful to enjoy it alone. And I’m here just for a few hours, so why not!”.
She smiled and agreed.
She then asked, “what do you find so beautiful?”
So I described to her the sky and the earth, the grass and the birds. I showed her the clouds, the trees and the flowers. I described to her the pleasant smell and the calming breeze. How it made me peaceful and joyous inside. And all the while she merely looked at me and nodded.
Finally she said, “I’ve been living here since I was born. I’ve been seeing all of this everyday. When I heard you describe it that way, I tried to think, how come I did not see of that like this? Is this something that only adults can do? But then I remembered that I had thought something like this on some days. Like when I had won the prize at school, I had come running home, and had shouted with glee at all the birds and trees that I had won. I found everything was amazing and happy, like me. And when the last year had ended, and our vacations had started, I had walked from right here, looking everywhere, thinking how nice it was. It’s not like I can feel or think like you big people do. But I do know that it was a nice and happy feeling.”
I smiled and she continued.
“But then, when I had been scolded and sent home, I had thought that the road was dirty, and the birds on the trees were too loud. On another day, when I fell while playing, and was returning home, I cursed the trees when a seed fell on me. Some other time, when I was late for school, I blamed the rain. I remember looking everywhere and not being happy. I was sad!!!
I never had given it any thought, but then when I thought about all this now, I think there’s something wrong with the way we think. Like, look, the trees and the birds and everything is just right here, as it always is. I mean, it’s not changing much is it? I mean, the birds chirp everyday when I go home, the seeds drop regardless of if I’m passing by or not. And the rains always come when they want. So it’s not like we don’t like them at some time, and then something changes, and then we start liking it very much, right? So perhaps, its not the trees and things like that make us happy? Perhaps its just us, and we find happiness in other things? Maybe it’s always there, you know, like always there. And whenever we don’t realize that, we aren’t happy. Whenever I cry, my mother says that we all are always happy inside, but we just forget it for a while. I thought she just said that to stop my crying, but maybe she is right, you know? Maybe our happiness is really inside us, and it’s like a choice, like what dress should I wear on sunday. Or maybe, we know only when we are not thinking about it, like sometimes I remember answers when I’m not thinking about the questions in an exam.”
Suddenly she jumped from the bench, eyes wide and exclaimed, “Mother will scold me if I’m late! I should run home! And yes, mother says all happiness lives here. So perhaps we will find it if we don’t just look there, right?” And she removed the hand from her chest where all the happiness had dwelt, running on her way to home.