I sighed into the darkness as another sleepless night prevailed upon me. The doctors said that it was depression. Apparently, I had all the symptoms-weariness, anger ,frustration and this sudden urge to pull the blinds and keep out the light. They gave me medication, patted me on the back and told me I would be fine. I never felt fine.
I had retired two years back. Life had a monotonous and dreary tinge to it. Thus, I readily welcomed the idea of a school batch reunion as I figured it would lighten my mood.
I smiled indulgently as I looked at all of my friends. We sat at a table,each one of us speaking about some funny encounter, cracking some funny jokes. I couldn’t help but feel a bit proud when I saw where I had got in life.
I drove up to the restaurant in a Mercedes and all of them came in an Uber. They were still the same, standing where they were ten years back. I had retired as the CEO of a multinational company with enough money to sustain a whole generation after me. I didn’t have a family so the question did not arise.
Suddenly, they began recounting some interesting instances which I couldn’t even remember. Apparently, one day, they bunked class and went to a lake to see the rainbow. They played football in the rain and drank hot tea afterwards. They talked about sleepover nights during which they would lie down on the roofs of the houses, staring at the stars and remarking on how funny the constellations looked. Once, they even jumped into a lake, fully clothed, just to see if they would drown.
These incidents and experiences sounded kind of fun and I anxiously enquired where I had been when all of this had happened. Funnily enough, they couldn’t remember. They said they had asked me once or twice to accompany them on their adventurous escapades but I always refused on account of work.
They reminded me how I had refused to accompany them on a foreign holiday three years ago because as usual, I was too tied up with work. I had not even accompanied them on their Indian holidays, under the pretext that I had too much work to do.
Today, they had also retired. They were not even half as well off as I was but the happiness and contentment on their faces irked me.
They were living a comfortable enough life. They all had the basic comforts and their children were well settled. They couldn’t afford more than one holiday a year but there was so much to do at home that they never got bored. They were in touch with all of their old siblings and friends who kept popping over for a chat or a drink whenever they were in the vicinity. They led busy, happy lives and didn’t complain of sleepless nights or of depression.
They had come together in an Uber cab because they thought that it would be so much nicer to travel together and spend that much more time with one another. They all knew what their friends had been up to. Their conversations showed that they had had previous contact and were very knowledgeable about everything that was going on in one another’s life. I was the only one who was clueless. They told me that they had fondly followed my progress and read all my articles. They proudly told their kids that I was their friend. They congratulated me on my success but at that moment,I felt nothing more than a miserable failure.
That night,I couldn’t sleep. I don’t think that my depression was the cause. I kept thinking of their nice and busy lives,full of companionship and laughter. They had been intelligent enough to realise that money and success would not count beyond a particular point and it was not what would comfort one in old age. They had wisely taken the decision to keep up friendships and relationships which would lighten the burden of old age and make it an all the more pleasurable experience. They did not crave for spontaneous action or excitement. They only craved for the company and love of their family and friends.
I,on the other hand,had missed the graduation of my only younger brother because of some important meeting. I had dismissed his unhappiness as over reacting. I infuriated him to such an extent that he broke all contact with me. I hadn’t bothered with anything else except earning as much as I could and reaching the level of success that I always aspired for.
I felt small and inadequate. I was being forced to rethink my whole life. If I was depressed before, I was positively down in the dumps now. Every morning seemed a pain, an abyss of daylight which I shunned as much as I could. Every night brought with it the promise of sleeplessness and boredom which stretched on eerily.
That’s when I met the boy next door. He was a ten year old kid, surprisingly bold and unaffected by my stern glances and short sighs of irritation. His parents had shifted to the apartment next door and were very busy with the job in hand.
He was getting very bored and had decided that he needed someone to talk to. He did. He talked to me about football,school and how he hated math. He told me his whole family history and all the funny incidents that occurred because of him when he was a child.
He elaborated the thrills of getting wet in the rain and having ice cream for breakfast on a Sunday morning. He was a happy,carefree,cheerful lad and I didn’t mind a bit even when he insisted that I pull back the curtains and open the windows to let the sunlight in. I was content to just lie back and listen to his rambling.
Everyday,he would come home after school,to tell me all that had transpired at school. He would then take me out on a walk and take me to spots which held a special attraction for him. He would even drag me to the football games he played in the colony.
I found myself taking a very vivid interest in these games and would cheer,as excited as any of them,when he scored a goal. He adopted me as his grandfather. He would give me a card every year on Grandfather’s Day. I didn’t even know such a day existed. When I asked him about it,he said it didn’t. He had named the day he met me as Grandfather’s day.
He persuaded me to end the fight with my brother. According to him siblings were a gift of God to cherish and to embrace. Not everyone was fortunate enough to be blessed with such bonding familial ties.
I listened to him. I found wisdom in the words and the thinking of a ten year old. Every morning,I would wake up with joy in my heart and a song on my lips. I started sleeping well because I was so tired after all the journeys I made with my new friend. My joy knew no bounds when I saw my brother on my doorstep some days later. I had tried talking to him, tried explaining how wrong I was. Life is too short to hear grudges against the people you love.
As he embraced me,tears of joy ran down my cheeks as I realised that the rift had healed. We had become one family again. The doctors said I was miraculously cured of my depression. I was frequently in contact with my friends and my brother. My young friend gave me the spontaneity and the excitement I craved as he invented new games to play with me everyday.
I was fortunate enough to have found my little ray of sunshine. In a way,I think I’m luckier than anybody else. Everybody lives only once. I lived my childhood twice -the second time through the eyes of this ten year old who had performed a feat which so many medicines and doctors could not.
All I’m saying is,this is how it’s going to be all life long. Life can either be a savage beast hunting you down, where you have to outrun it to live, or it can be a pleasant journey where one sacrifices a few materialistic pleasures for contentment and satisfaction.
You will have dreams,aspirations. You will want to chase them to carve out a good career and a comfortable future. After all,this time will never come back.
Do so,by all means,but remember to laugh and play too. Remember to build your own small little world- your own little bubble of peace and tranquility where all is well. Find time to do what you want,to be with the people you love.
For some it may be reading,for others listening to musics,for yet others watching a rainbow. Whatever it is,do it. Don’t wait for a proper time. The right time is now because this time will never come back.
You don’t need to wait to feel happy. It’s your life. Feel free to call the shots. You’re the one who has to live through it all. Money can’t buy you peace,it can’t buy you contentment and it sure as hell cannot pull you out of depression.
You have a busy life,a very tight schedule? That’s how it’s going to be for a very long time. Don’t let your happiness and joy take a back seat just for the sake of it. Time and tide wait for none. Make use of your time while it lasts. Today,the sun has risen on your time. Tomorrow,it will set. Do all you want and everything you love.
Snatch those moments of happiness which you get for you will treasure them beyond anything else in the world! That’s what life is about isn’t it? I think it’s so much more about LIVING than BREATHING.