Is happiness the only thing in life?

“Whatever we do is for our happiness,” my cousin sister put it across me, quickening her pace as she joined me on the night stroll. The conversation happened nearly two decades ago in a city adjoining Delhi. Years later, I sometimes reflected back at that small talk, wondering at the motivations, the tussles and tribulations of the young minds, that lay underneath. Those were the 1990s, when youthful aspirations were again in conflict with the preceding generations. My own state of mind in those days was one of inner absorption, undisturbed by the harsh grind of reality around. I was rather indifferent to the pulls and attractions of the world. Happiness is what everyone wants to reduce all of our actions and behaviour to. Maybe it is the case. But I always thought there were other matters that did not involve  pleasure. It couldn’t be just for my own happiness that I did everything I did. Everyone in the world today wants to be...
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An ordinary man

The thin young guy beamed a smile that ran miles. Cheerfully drunk, he ordered an omelette pao and drew out his shabby wallet.  ‘Look where I come from,’ he flashed his voter ID card. He was obviously far away from his home town, making a living in the big city. ‘I work in the film line,’ he informed the street seller, the smile radiating from his countenance. ‘I drink. But I also send money home,’ he said with a glimmer of pride that comes from duty. ‘Have you got your Aadhar card, that’s important too,” the seller asked. ‘Yup, that coming up as well.’ ‘I haven’t married yet,’ he went on. ‘You will soon. If you are in the film line, that should be easy,’ said the seller and took his money. In the big city, moments of good spirits do not last long, and poverty soon engulfs its hard working classes. The ordinary man survives, bruised, broke, broken. ...
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Richard Cory and the world

There was this poem, Richard Cory, that we read in school. Richard Cory was a gentleman, from sole to crown. He was rich, fluttered pulses, and was graced in every virtue. Everyone wished to be like him. And yet, one fine evening, he went home and… The last line, when we read it, only amused our young minds. We didn’t wonder much about his last act. It even seemed like, sort of natural… a result of some hidden misfortune, pain or grief. Adults could harbour such pain, we felt, and it could happen. It was a normal, volitional act of a well meaning, healthy man. There was no point speculating on what ailed him; the poem gave no clues. That’s how complex life could be. Looking at today’s booming world, it could drive normal sensitive men nuts. Is there a cause to be happy? The ones who are happy are happy. The sadder lot carries its misfortunes alone. Some can take it in their...
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Happiness is a side effect

Happiness appears to be the most sought after commodity other than money, and the contest between the two is nearly settled by the saying, ‘money can’t buy happiness,’ although being happy too can’t get you money by itself. That everyone wants to be happy is a universally accepted fact. Why would anyone want to be sad or suffer? Does this mean we are some kind of pleasure-driven, biologically programmed machines seeking happiness all the time? No one appears to have ever felt ‘hungry’ for happiness, felt an urge to be happy, or suffered when deprived of its pleasurable aspects. One may desire more money, more pleasure, more success, or more power, but never has anyone reported to want more of happiness after once being happy, or as suffering for want of it. Nor did religion ever spoke of happiness as a virtue, laying stress instead on denial of pleasure. How then does happiness enter into the scheme of our life, to the...
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Life is like a gift

Children know there is something called death. They see it happen around them, but do not see it happening to them. They know they will die if they were to drown, or fall down from a certain height, but do not see it as inevitable. It is probably a function of time that as we age, as we come closer to death, the very thought of one day being dead and gone comes as a mild shock. No one can claim to have come to the world with a right to live forever. Life was not bestowed on us as a natural right, and death when it comes naturally is not therefore unfair. Is there a healthier way of conceiving the force of life is us, whose presence for a long time within us makes us its slave, such that the very thought of its absence fills us with grief? If we see our existence as a gift that would one day...
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