Last year, this month, I was happy that I was going to be a mother. I was expecting. Three months and counting. But one cruel morning stripped me of my happiness and I was rushed to the hospital. Two days and as the third day waned into the night, I was twisting in pain, tears rolling down my eyes as my body ripped off the final thread and made my body and soul empty and devoid of the life it harnessed.
I did not go for work. I was at home. I was depressed. I didn’t want to talk. My spirit had vanished and nothing remained. I was angry. After some days, I went back to work. I was working at another school then, teaching fourth and second grade students. I couldn’t drive the dark clouds away. I didn’t talk much. I broke out into sobs now and then. Sometimes, seeing those second grade children, I broke down. I had to try hard not to cry and push down the lump in my throat.
At that time, there was this seven year old boy who was autistic. I used to handle his special education needs. He would never look at anyone. He was always lost in his world. He will not talk to us as well. It took so much effort to make him speak. He muttered to himself but never replied to our questions. He hated anyone touching him and would shrink away as we tried to touch him.
The day, I went back to work, we had some practice in the school courtyard and the students were standing in a line. I was standing behind the boy. He suddenly turned and tugged me. As I stooped down, he touched my cheeks and silently looked into my eyes and smiled. After a few seconds, he turned and went back into his own world. I felt my eyes burn. That was the most beautiful “It is ok. Smile” I had received. Unspoken, unheard, yet felt. I will never forget him
There has always been a love story that has passed around; mouth to ear and from there to another ear in my husband’s family. The story, not a rather pretty one features an uncle of his, who is in his fifties now. Although he is now happily married: a third time without any particular reason, he blames his first wife for triggering off what he calls as a series of rather unfortunate events. That first wife who, one fine day ran off with this uncle’s sister in law’s brother as his then lushly haired head sweated under the heartless sun of the Emirates. Although the heartless sun and his toil in a strange city abroad makes him look like the victim, the fact that the eloped first wife is still with his brother while he has jumped twice and my personal experiences with him made me rethink my sympathy which pointed to certain other traits of this protagonist which makes him appear not so innocent after all. Whatever it be, what I am concerned about is a comment I have often heard of the first wife:
“(a very disrespectful salutation to the so called woman) she suffers with that poor(very disrespectful salutation to the man she eloped with). Serves her right. How he treated her – like a rajkumari and now she lives like a tramp…. Poverty and suffering’ and the usual tsk tsking follows.
Which set me thinking. How do these people assess happiness? Is it through the number of zeroes on the right side of the salary? Or is it by assessing the square feet of a house? Or is it by checking the flooring of the house or depending upon the car someone has? Do they mean that the rate of happiness is directly proportional to the number of diamonds, or tolas of gold in the locker or the stacks of fresh currency in the bank accounts? May be it’s their concept of happiness. Are we all so materialistic and disillusioned by the status symbols that we do not see the happiness in the small things of life? Is it tough for them to realize that prosperity in marriage cannot be equated to all of this but to the bond shared by two people and it doesn’t matter how poor they are or how rich they are. Are they so blind to the fact that love makes someone happy even when they are immersed in poverty? And don’t they see that this ‘uncle’ is not superior to her just because he has got a bulky Wallet.
I remember a Syrian friend of my husband who worked for a top of the class company with a fat paycheck. She quit this dream job(of others) and went after ‘her’ dream to become a makeup artist. We made small circles with our pointers at our temples and called her a perfect ‘nut case’. However it turns out that she never really regretted her decision. She went on to work with even Tom Cruise it seems.That brings me to the second question – What about success?
Years later, I knew why she did that crazy thing. For me, it took several years to realize myself or my career goals. I want to work as a professor or a publisher. I know how these professionals are paid. I know for a fact that they are not exactly glamorous. But it makes me happy.
Today I know that being happy with a job doesn’t mean the salary or the perks but being in love with that job. I know that a happy married life means not how well off that couple is but how much they hold on to each other and how they stand by each other even through the darkest hours of life and I sincerely hope people would stop judging how happy others are and stop looking down on others with their imaginary scales of happiness. It just shows how these judges are feeling sorry for their own lives. Really!