A few days ago, while I was sitting and looking out of my window (thanks to the pandemic, you can do that without being guilty), I went down memory lane. I was born and brought up in Srinagar, Kashmir. Although we lived in the city, our grandparents had roots in one of the surrounding villages.
An uncle of my father’s would often come visiting, and we would be very excited about it. He was like Santa Claus for us – dressed in his traditional “pheran” and an orange turban, with red cheeks and a beaming smile. He would enter the house and all the kids of the family would pounce on him.
Why! He would take one kid to the side and dramatically take out two orange candies and give it to him or her. A smile still comes to my lips when I think of this. What innocence, what simplicity, what happiness we would feel about these two candies! It wasn’t that we didn’t have other things – but the love with which he would do this simple thing meant a lot to us.
Life happened. After moving around India and a few places abroad, I found myself in Delhi. One day while buying mangoes from a vendor, a young mother standing nearby started talking to him. She wanted the same mangoes which she had bought the previous day as her son had loved them.
Suddenly, she pointed to her son and the vendor and I both looked towards him. We saw a nine-month-old baby cheerfully playing with a squeaky toy. Our eyes shifted from the baby, back to the mother and I wondered where we went wrong. What happened to the little things that brought us happiness and satisfaction? Where were we leading our kids?
Now I live in Gurgaon in a high-rise apartment. It’s a place where hundreds of people live, next to each other, but few actually know each other. I was visiting a friend of mine one day; she had a guest who kept talking about how the previous evening they had to keep hopping between restaurants as their daughter didn’t like the ambiance of places they visited. Finally, she zeroed in on one and they had their dinner. When this guest left, I asked how old their daughter was. My friend smiled and said, “two”!
There seems to have been a major shift in our thinking. Life has become one big basket of wants and even more wants. We don’t even stop and see what we are collecting in that basket. The greed seems to be spilling over. It is time to take a breather and look into this basket, to ponder what it is that we really wanted in the first place – or indeed if there is anything in this basket that we want at all. Wasn’t what we had, enough?