I distinctly remember the single recurrent question that parents, acquaintances, and teachers alike loved to exercise upon me and at the children in my growing up days; with quite a cruel twinkle in their eyes, an anticipation, rather a certainty, that our answers would mirror their thoughts they, happily and a with confidence soaring high, would ask, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’. I knew ‘a doctor’ would earn me a candy, ‘an engineer’ a boisterous smile, ‘an architect’ an eager nod; however, ‘a writer’ would be met with concern, ‘an artist’ would have a ready reply ‘that’s a hobby’, while ‘a journalist’ would need talking me out and ‘You are good at Math.’ response! But nobody asked of me if I desire to be happy, if I’d be a happy man when I grow up.
Happiness was assumed, it was inherent and would be a constant, they blatantly and grossly thought! And precisely ‘to be happy’ was my answer in the secret slam-books that we children shared with each other, shrouding it away from the gaze of guardians. They laughed too, berating me, ‘Don’t you have an ambition?’ smirking in their child-like amusement. But I truly, earnestly and zealously wished to be happy. Little did I know that what I had innocently wished for was much more difficult and treacherous to attain than getting into medical school! Happiness was never inherent or a constant. I had to strive to be happy, to find peace and, now, I’ve realized, and am still learning the terrible predicament that I had led myself into.
I had placed my happiness in others. I ignorantly believed in attaining happiness only when my broken self was complete. That I will most certainly find irrevocable joy in the heart of a companion. That I will chance upon the lost half of a broken medallion, its other incomplete half lodged within me, in a heart that claims my heart. I erred in believing that love, as I had read of, dreamt of would sail me through doldrums of despondency into an island of everlasting happiness. Besides, I have always been a person who is terrified of happiness, believing that I will slip from the high cliff of happiness into the deep trench of despair if I were to be tremendously happy. That never helped either.
Ignorant was I. The lost half of the medallion of joy was inside me all along, under layers of doubt and ignorance. The two broken halves were always there, seeking each other and all I had to do was muster the strength to put them together! There was never the mistaken necessity for a companion to validate my existence, to oar my sinking boat. Moreover, aren’t happiness and despair are the troughs and crests of the same wave that propel life forward, the presence of one necessitating that of another?
The year before, in all likelihood, was one of the darkest years I have lived-I dwelt in a land of rotting thoughts, breathing in the stench of despair, suffocating, dying one day at a time, to hastily and regretfully deciding to end it all. But I made it and I’m alive! Rains washed off the rot surrounding me, a bright sun shone and baked the quagmire of unhappiness lest I sink, the wind fanned away the stench and I see light, may be a pinprick but it is there.
And as I step into this new year I shun all resolutions, of all checklists, of all promises and I make only one promise to myself. To be happier. I have a lot of learning to do, to be comfortable in my own skin, to always hold the medallion of happiness together. Yes it will be a precarious and arduous task but I will walk along. This will be a happier new year.