If I were a beggar, I would stop living. I would go to the corners of the earth and coo myself into eternal sleep. For what is life when I have to grovel, stretch my wrinkled hands and beg to survive? When I get spat at, people’s eyes berating me and certain wicked humans kicking my ribs while screaming “go and work”. Isn’t life void when you’re a nonentity? When you cannot contribute to the world? When you are at the mercy of others?
If I were crippled, I would stop living. I would go into the corners of my room and make my heart limp. For what is life when I have to be carried about, my dead limbs dangling over the chair. If I were bedridden, I would say the world should let me go and life should say goodbye. For I will be a burden to others and the sour taste of guilt shall continually colour my tongue. Happiness will be far and joy will be like a relative in another continent – one you might never see before death comes knocking.
If I were blind, I would kill myself. For what is life when it is always shrouded in obscurity? What is the future when the present is fogged – shut out by an unyielding lens? I will go into the inner chambers and beckon death. I will speak sweet nothingness to lure it into a visit and I shall plead that when it comes, it finds me on my bed in peaceful sleep.
If I lost a contract and was plunged into debt worth millions, I would spread my arms wide and jump off the bridge. I shall shock death and give it a pleasant visit. For I will be a tangle of uselessness, robed in satin and cotton. A mass of fear and uncertainty covered in flesh and skin. What is life when I shall become a coward, hiding beneath the cupboard when creditors come collecting?
I want to live life whole – in complete body parts and a pouch full of coins. I want to travel around the world, wear the finest of linens and eat the freshest of meals. I want my utensils plated in gold and the soles of my shoes untainted with dirt. My house will be made of glass, it shall be perched beside the sea, cool wind sojourning around its environs. The trees will be pregnant with juicy fruits and the sands shall be sparkly white. I shall have kids running around the house; their peals of laughter echoing beyond the waters.
I want to live life happy and happiness is the chiming of coins or the smell of crispy notes. Happiness is having whole body parts where no one has to hold your hands or carry you across thresholds. Happiness is having no glitches or hitches. Happiness is having it all and wanting for nothing.
…But I saw a beggar smile and a blind man moan in contentment.
I saw the debtor on his drawing board, picking his life back – one bit at a time. The blind did not see and he laughed at himself when he hit the brick wall. When there was no one to help the cripple, he crawled to his destination, sat and gave himself a pat on the back for his achievement.
When the beggar went back to his home beneath Ijora Bridge with an empty pocket, he met his children’s expectant gazes, cradled them, tossed them into the air till they threw their heads back, howling with laughter. Then he told them stories until they dozed off in his arms.
The crippled is thankful that he has hands, the one-handed man is thankful that he has one and the man without hands is thankful that he is alive.
I saw the debtor smile and the deaf laugh – even if he cannot hear the sound of his own laughter.
For happiness is not dictated by the fullness of your pouch or the wholeness of your body parts. Happiness is the sun, wind, moon, and stars – given freely to us. Happiness is not a sycophant who makes friends with only the rich or influential. Happiness does not run when you are at your lowest. Happiness comes when you invite it.
Happiness is you realizing that life troubles are but for a while and refusing to be defined or dictated to by your woes. For life does not end when your eyes cannot see or when your legs are unresponsive. Or when you lose that job or have that miscarriage. The clock ticks, life continues and drags you along whether you like it or not.
Your joy should be within you, sitting majestically in your heart – unperturbed by earthly troubles or financial handicap. For when you have a house made with gold today, tomorrow, you shall want a home that can fly to other destinations, or one that dangles between the clouds and soil. For human wants can never be slaked and to define your happiness by the fulfillment of your wants is to live a life of unending dissatisfaction.
So when you call on happiness, it will, at first, emerge as a tiny shaft of light way off in the distance. When you see it, cuddle it and give it a home in your soul. For then shall it become a crescendo of light, gushing into your veins and bones, and filling your heart, mind, body, and soul with its presence.