Happiness

The real poor

What does it mean to be poor?

It is easy to describe poverty through the lens of money. Somehow that is the one definition that seems to stick across the spectrum. There are programs for alieviation of this wretched state. Governments are made and unmade on this topic.

But what does it mean to be poor?

On a summer morning, from a construction site that was fast making realty a reality, I saw a lady pass by. A hop now, a skip otherwise and a jump now and then.. In tow was her daughter. Playing with an empty water bottle and struggling to keep pace. On her hips, her little son cackling with laughter and undoing her hair.

She spoke in a language I didn’t recognise. But her tone was enough to tell me a bit about her love for her children and the richness of her heart. Atop her head were building material in a red basket with a yellow safety helmet sitting pretty. Like a crowning diamond on Her Majesty’s crown.

The bright red flowers on her saree sat easy with the glass bangles and matched her happy step. Her work shift was all set to start. The anklets on her feet seemed to announce that with every step she took. It was going to be some time before family time in their temporary dwelling that they lived in. The builder had given them one until the high rise that they were part of constructing, got done.

There was genuine happiness in them. All three of them. The daughter often stopping to pluck flowers and throw them at the wind and then scampering to catch up with her mother. They went about reaching out to the morning with a joyous spirit and a gentle sprint. So full of life and yet with tenderness and care. Oblivious to the stranger in me watching them walk by.

Are they ‘poor’?, I remember asking myself. A monetary lens will affirm. But look at it this way.

To walk by with a happy stride.

To carry a weight but not seem bothered by it.

To provide life in real terms to your children by exchanging your living moments for it.

To embrace each morning with  smile and all the possibilities that it brings in.

That is not ‘poverty’!¬†Ask any rich man. Or the office goer. Observe faces on a Monday morning as they come out of trains, buses and cars. It often is a weary lost look and an impossible to miss sadness. Not in all, but in many. And even as you wonder why, remember to look into the mirror as well.

What are we chasing? What do we have to give up in order to be ‘rich’? Poverty, as they say, is a state of mind. So is ‘Richness’. To be truly ‘rich’ is to be mindful of ourselves and our choices being fully present to how we think of our state of the mind. The lady with the red flowers and the eloquent yellow diamond atop her dirty crown showed that to me. She is long gone but the happiness in her voice and the cheer in her children remain in my memory.

The high rise she helped build now is lit by big swanky cars, sophisticated scents and solemn looks. Especially so, on Monday morning. Often it takes me back to the laughter of the lady with the bright red flowers on her saree. We have choices

We have choices! Lets remember to choose a rich life.

Tom Sawyer moments

I have something called a Tom Sawyer moment. Amongst my childhood heroes, Tom Sawyer is one heck of a kick ass dude. His successes with Becky Thatcher aside, his ingenuity to get a group of friends whitewash the fence was jaw-dropping awesome as a kid. It remains jaw-dropping AWESOME as an adult with a paycheck.

For ages I have hankered for a Tom Sawyer moment in my life. A moment when what got handed out as a punishment morphs into something quite different. A happy time when a lofty proposition is made loftier and transformed into a fun happy time.

A few weeks ago after some insane amount of peering into monitors and hammering away at the keyboard, the missus sentenced me with the responsibility of taking care of the little miss. When it became clear that I perhaps would end up enjoying it all, she threw in another angle. There would be two other kids that might join in.

Without much ado, we got working. The girls had to first scamper around and collect as many dry leaves as could be found in the garden. Then for strewn flowers. It took them an effort but they had a whale of a time. After which, came the task of arranging it all for display.

 

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Their hands were a dark shade of brown. The colour of the soil with assorted grime that came about by heckling the wind and peddling joy. When playtime neared its end everyone was happy. The mommies were happy that their tasks were behind them. The morose gardener let loose a rare smile and a good word to the girls to see most of his cleaning done.

As for me, my Tom Sawyer moment had arrived. The girls have said they want to do it again and one of them put it in simple terms. “Uncle, I will share my lollipop with you”

Plus, the little miss was one proud bundle. ‘My daddy’ she said. The moments that stay in memory are the unannounced and silly times. They whizz by. Slow down, put out your hands and watch them fall into your life.

Life teaches everyday. If only we care to listen.

 

Tom sawyer 1