Can you spell ‘happyness’?

That was another time…another life. Growing up in the warm cocoon of the protected world that only parents can build for their children. The city was the same, but it seemed to acquire newer colours as time ticked by. As we grew up, it let us into alleys of life that were unfamiliar, but strangely exciting. There was that desire to break free from the reins of control and taste the exhilaration of freedom and independence. It was a carefree world where struggle and responsibility were alien. Life seemed to overflow with youthful happiness. Amidst all the excitement, exhilaration and warm companionship of people who were in the same phase as me, there was no room for unhappiness. I was in love with myself and with the whole world. 
I thought this was happiness.

A different time…a new city. I had outgrown the purposeless flights of adolescence. I loved this new city and its people, albeit in a different way. Here, the streets always brimmed with people. People who walked fast…people en route to their work…people who had dreams to chase and goals to achieve…people who had no time to bother about the passers-by. There was something totally infectious about this pace and spirit. Nothing was ever still; everything seemed to move all the time, but it all moved in synchrony.

I found myself gradually blending into this ocean of people. Sometimes, I  felt a part of them by the way little things in my life were borrowed from  the routine of their life. Like the way I rushed to work in the mornings, grabbed a croissant and coffee, and devoured it even as I walked. I learnt to run with my coffee, fish out the card from my bag and swipe even as my hands were full. I learnt to run down the stairs and hop in just as the doors of the train slammed shut. In the train, I could sit down and sip my coffee…leaf through the newspaper or read the book I had been reading…or even dab in a little make-up without having people stare at me!

And sometimes I felt connected to them by the perspectives and attitudes I was unknowingly borrowing from them. I had begun to think…dream…define personal and professional goals. I was on my feet all the time. There was always so much to explore and experience. The city had so much life…so much character. More importantly, I loved my sense of productivity. For the first time, I felt I had wings.

In the evenings, when I walked across the bridge, I would glance at the river…and the beautiful city that was built around it. It seemed to suddenly mirror my own life. It made me feel good about my life…it made me fall in love with my life…every single day. Life was full of zeal and optimism…happiness uncorrupted by the negative sentiments of those who surrounded me. For they too seemed happy with who they were. Back then, I thought this was happiness.

The jolt finally came. This time, it was a small town…a new set of people.  Adversity struck. Without warning, life revealed its true colors- the harsher side that I never knew existed. I was unprepared. Like quicksand, the circumstances sucked me in. They never abated, they just deepened and worsened. They never gave me the opportunity to recover or even make sense of what was happening. Life snatched away from me those simplest of joys that I had always taken for granted until then. And it was only then, when the very ground on which I stood, was taken off from under my feet, leaving me hanging in the air, that I understood what the real problems in life are and what life truly encompasses.

The sadists and opportunists struck; I was the perfect victim. They were like scavengers…like vultures that hover around a dying man, for they smell death. I was sinking, and when I looked up, it was to see faces lit up by the possibility of my drowning. Perhaps that was the moment I woke up. Until then, I had been in denial, and the denial had at some point, given way to a numbness that could only be called meaningless existence. It hadn’t been easy to stand up…to stop pining for myself…to take the first step forward. I stopped thinking or feeling for myself. The emotions had consumed me. I redefined my goals. I started from scratch. During the day, I chased my goals, oblivious to my predicament. At night, I was so exhausted I would sleep even before I hit the bed. I learnt to retort to the scavengers by raising my standards even higher. There was never the time to think of the deep mess I was in. Never the time to see if I was sinking or floating. There were moments when my heart beat so fast that I thought I would collapse from fear, but I never really acknowledged my fears.

And then, there came a miracle. At the worst of times, when I expected a hand on my shoulder, a hand that would hold mine, it never happened. At a time when I had already learnt acceptance and was anyway too preoccupied to ask for miracles, there came this miracle. A miracle that made me pause in my steps and sit down, for I suddenly realized how exhausted, overworked and depleted I was. I suddenly realized the magnitude of the burden I was carrying on my shoulders. I suddenly saw myself in new light, and felt overwhelmed. Then the tears started coz not a soul knew the intensity of the moments that had been entirely mine. And now, this miracle made me look back at those moments and finally feel their pain. And thus I learnt that it is only this moment- when you construct happiness on top of all the pain you endured, that defines true happiness.


11 thoughts on “Can you spell ‘happyness’?

  1. Again so beautifully written !

    I identify so much of myself in this. Only difference is that I spent quite some time in self-pity and feeling helpless. And then alhamdulillah, came a time when I got tired of it, tired of self-pity and crying i.e and decided to fight back.. fight back against all those who wanted me to drown and perish not in one stroke but painfully slowly… I am still gaining my ground back and am still in the process of standing… and at this point I cannot deny that it was all His plan and all His will and without His help and guidance I could not have even thought of standing up…

    Anyways, I got so carried away here, telling my story on your post, but your writing touched me (as always) and it triggered spilling parts of me I have not spilled elsewhere before.

    Thank you Vidya so much for everything. I learn so much from you and though I identify with so many things that you write about, it is absolute bliss to see life through your eyes ❤ 🙂

  2. Taheseen, at the ground level, we all connect to each other, isn’t it? For our stories are the same…our drives are the same. It’s just that we are often so distant from this ground level…esp so in today’s world.
    Well, the post here is a condensed version of a certain phase of my life, but the truth is that I did spend a long time wallowing in my misery. Also, looking back at the events then, I realize that there is that mysterious force of nature which binds us all in its conspiracy, overwhelming us. Perhaps that conspiracy led me to the miracles. And they have never ceased. The same conspiracy helped me discover you. And in you, I have a reader who can read between the lines. For this reason, I miss my early blogging years coz they were too full of people who helped me grow beyond what I could have grown on my own. You are one of the few from that class of people. Thank you for being here!

  3. Dagny


    Succor never comes when you want it to come. It comes only when you’ve been pushed to the edge. That’s when you learn to appreciate it, to treat it as the miracle it is. That’s when it can create the maximum impact on your life.

    They say that there can be no joy until there is sorrow. It is sounds horribly cliched but for all that it is inescapably true. Until you’ve plumbed the depths of sorrow, you cannot experience the pinnacles of joy.

    You, as always, introduce me to the spaces within me that I never thought I had. Thank you for being who you are.

  4. Pingback: Sunday Brunch #8 | Serenely Rapt

  5. Vidya, what a beautiful rendition of life’s struggles… I could almost visualise what had happened… for my life bears a similar story. My miracle came with a brush with death – almost! and then on the other side of fear lay victory.
    The journey continues, newer fears newer struggles, but hope never dies.
    And you are right, no one.. read comes when you are at the lowest ebb of your life. You have to find the spark within yourself and build on it to pull yourself out of it.
    Pull we did.
    Loads of hugs!

    1. I guess it is all this struggle and pain which paves the path for the internal journey that is the actual purpose of life. Thank you for dropping by, A walk into the woods! Would love to read you too….

  6. Dagny,
    However clichéd it may sound, I guess it is only when we live through all those sayings which have been repeated to us time and again, that we internalize them. Also, thank you so much for creating the opportunity for me to reach out to a larger spectrum of amazing people who have their own stories to narrate!

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