I don’t know how old you are now but I know you are old enough to understand what I am going to say.
By now, you may have lived some of your life and experienced a gamut of emotions so you will know that there are days when the sun doesn’t always shine bright.
When you were little, you had this habit of asking everyone around you, ‘Are you happy?’ It was like a joke to us each time your teachers told us this. I was the ultimate victim of this question, ‘Mamma, are you happy?’ You asked me this a million times a day. I’m not sure how you sensed that slight change of tone in my voice or the fact that I was distracted and miles away from you even though we were in the same space. And you would always bring me back with this question. I would always reply, ‘Yes. I’m happy. Are you happy?’
You always answered, ‘No.’ And then I would ask, ‘Why not?’ And you would say, ‘Because…’ and then never really finish the sentence.
I knew it then that you are just like me. A very happy person at the core of it all but someone for whom sadness was never far away. You just had to stretch out your hand to touch it. In fact, it surrounded you like an invisible cloak. Always ready to puncture all that brings you joy. It was second nature to you.
And I was worried for you then because the mother in me didn’t want even the shadow of sorrow over you. And yet, I knew that I could do nothing to help you. because sorrow was inevitable. That sadness would just be the sea that you would be swimming in.
There are days that are dark. Darker than nights. So dark that you shut your eyes even if you see a window of hope open up. You are blinded by your own sorrow so much that it weighs heavy on your shoulders. Sadness has a way of making you feel alone in a crowd. Like people are talking all around you and all you can hear is the sound of your own voice that just keeps building up until it becomes so loud that you could burst. You feel the burden of it around you. It sinks you down further and further in a darker abyss, until it brings you to a point where you feel if I end it today, I may just fly. Will I?
And there is that line at the brink of which you stand wondering whether to take the plunge and feel free all over again.
Remember at these times that it is a point of no return. Once you take the plunge, sinking or flying would be the same.
When you stand at the brink of this line and I shudder to think that you may someday, remember to ask yourself first, ‘Are you happy?’ The answer would be No. And then ask, ‘Do I make someone else happy?’ And there in lies your reason to stop and think. Because the answer to that would always be ‘Yes’.
When I asked myself this question, your face swimmingly appeared in the tears that had welled up my eyes some time ago and I had my answer right there. Even at my most vulnerable time, I had the infinite power to make you happy.
Change the question.
Ask yourself everyday. ‘Have I made someone happy today?’ My friends, my parents, my partner, my child, a person walking on the street, my help, my colleagues, the dog in the neighbourhood, the cat that visits me every night, the tree in my compound, the server at the restaurant, the little boy who was crying in the elevator the other day, the girl who lost in love, the one who thinks she failed in life, the stranger who winked at me, the guy I almost fought with in the parking lot but didn’t…
Remember that all these people may be standing at that point of no return and one smile from you or a gesture or a kind word would stop them from taking the plunge.
‘Coz while sorrow blinds you to everything else, happiness has a way of expanding your vision. It makes you see the entire world in one go. You are as significant as a blade of grass on this earth lit up with the rays of the sun that shines bright on it.
Let the cloak of sadness be there around you. It may even be comforting in those cold, wintry days. But remember in those darkest hours that right after you take off this cloak, lies a world of possibilities.
Remember how we drowned those seeds in water last week, softened them up so they could sprout and give birth the next morning?
Drown in your sadness. Accept it. Consume it. Devour it. Be vulnerable. Let it puncture your heart and your soul. Because after it does that, it will soften you. Don’t think softness is a mark of weakness. Softness is strength. You have to be soft to give birth, to create something.
And the day you understand this will be the day you fly.
You make me happy. Always.
P.S I need to go show this to Dad because…I don’t know. Some feelings don’t have reasons. Just call him when you can. You make him happy too, you know.