“Are there any happy people?”, he disappointingly asks. I nod with a gentle smile. “Where!?”, annoyed he puts across his disbelief. I take his tightly clenched hands and unfold the fingers outside. “Here. Wherever these fingers point, there are happy people.”, I assure him.
Rain leaks through the thatched roof inside our only room and drowns it in. Isheen had made a boat last year and planted it inside. It isn’t as bad as it sounds.
There’s not much to do. Early in the morning, he works at a zamindar’s farmland for a few hours. Later in the day, he reads Premchand and Tagore while sitting in the boat.
We can’t buy more books because they’re a luxury when you fail to put food on the plates. In the evening, Isheen, like most boys in the village, ruminates over the unfortunate lives they lead here. Most of them can’t find an answer because probably there isn’t one.
But if there is, it’d be something like: an evening full of cricket matches where the 15 year olds won’t behave as 35 year olds. Where loving books wouldn’t be considered a curse you were born with, because it remains uncherished. Where mornings wouldn’t begin with the zamindar screaming at you for not properly digging up weeds and cutting the roots. Where the eyes are glistening with the imagination of life than tearing down with its realities. Where you don’t question the existence of happy people.
But then the sun goes down and so does the hope of better times. Tired minds go to sleep, tucking a dream beneath the cushion. A dream where there are city lights. Isheen wouldn’t mind them because they’re too far to prick his eyes. He says he now wants to imagine life in a different space where he can believe that happy people exist. So I let him.
I let him weave dreams of metropolis life where people drown inside the circles beneath their eyes. And there’s no boat, for there’s no time. Where you wake up before the sun rises and go to a place you hate for hours. Where books aren’t bothered to be removed from the bookshelves. Where there’s no imagined answer, for there’s no question. Where there’s no point of cricket matches because the shoulders are pushed too down to be able to lift a bat. Where you don’t ruminate because you’re numb. Where there’s only midnight snores in place of dreams tucked beneath your cushion. Where you don’t have anyone to tell you that happy people exist. Nobody lies to you that way.
But it’s a far-fetched dream. A dream of city lights. Or maybe of happy people. There’s no difference. But there are happy people indeed; we just have to find where to point.
Thankyou for reading 🙂