It is the season to be jolly, merry, chirpy and other nauseatingly shiny-happy words. Don’t get me wrong, I like the good cheer as much as that sales assistant who is selling her nth cake with that ecstatic smile and brightly bellowing season’s greetings without the slightest hint of fatigue or cynicism. It’s just that it is a bit too happy. Loud happy.
I don’t know if you get what I mean. When your soul is hiding in a small dark hole, a bit crushed and your heart’s feeling slightly crumbly, it’s difficult to paste that smile on your face and tell the world how much you love it. Your mood is more that of a ho-hum-holiday, let’s stare at the walls and watch another day crawl past.
As a protest to so much happiness around, I decided to go the other extreme and deliberately push that feeling of unhappiness as far as I could. Call it a ‘wilful sorrow’, which is sometimes a lovely but dangerously addictive indulgence. I wore horrible, faded brown pajamas, decided I’d just eat potato chips with a pickle-curd dip (My special recipe for days of sloth, try it), switched on the blues and as one of the greatest voices in the history of tears crooned ‘the thrill is gone’ I savoured with the delight of the truly sad every single melancholic thought that tumbled out of my head.
As the spell of bitterness began slowly cocooning me into a sort-of reverse happiness, a friend interrupted ‘the saddest head in the world’ with a phone call. Hearing my trying-to-be-nonchalant voice that was verging on what-am-I-doing-with-my-life/how-did-I-get-to-this-place and other slippery slope places, she got tough.
She begged, cajoled, bribed and finally emotionally blackmailed me into getting into the spirit of the season. I tried squawking that I am not really interested and it wasn’t my scene at all. “Then pretend it is”, she thundered in a fearsome voice that I dared not disobey. Also the threat of being forever banned from her pork vindaloo did the trick. A husband may come and go, but I want her vindaloo in my life forever.
I hung-up and as instructed, got immediately into action. With my insides cringing at the pretence, I wore a big, big smile on my face, threw-on the ‘I’m off to the merriest party in town’ outfit and trapeezed off to buy some gourmet roast chicken, cakes, decoration and a gift for myself (I even had it gift wrapped and the sales person told me that it was a ‘good choice’).
Sounds pathetic? Not really. How do I explain that happiness I felt, when I opened my gift, slowly, deliciously, carefully at midnight to a chorus of voices singing from the nearby church?
Alone, in my flat, with the candles lit, the doors and windows rainbowed with streamers, a plate of the most yummilicious cake and echoes of a distant music whose songs I had learnt in school, I unwrapped the most beautiful gift in the world—the knowledge that I could make myself happy in a seemingly alone world.