Being an inquisitive child, I often annoyed adults by asking those kinds of questions that have no answer or takes a million textbooks to explain. I recall on one hot summer day my father cutting up an old table and making it into a desk for me to study on. As we varnished the table together I grew restless and decided that the only way I was going to get him talking was to ask him one of those questions that would get him talking for hours.
“If happiness is made up out of moments, how do you know when you’re living one? How do you know when you’re happy?”
Not in the mood for words and annoyed that I was letting the varnish streak thanks to my slow progress, dad summed it all up in one sentence:
“You know you’re happy when you’re not sad”
Irritated that he had cut me off with one of those answers that kill the question I added persistence to my question: “I’m not sad right now; does this mean I’m happy?”
Dad didn’t answer me, nor did he have to… the conversation ended there and only recommenced at dinner.
On Monday, I walked onto the bus and wished the bus driver a good morning; I was startled when someone from front seat of the bus called out my name. I turned to see the blind boy I’d often spoken to when he was my client. Blind since birth, his senses had developed very acutely and he would often come into the store so that I could teach him something new on the cellphone that I’d sold him. Some people didn’t know how to do half the things he knew about his Nokia 3310. It must’ve been almost two years since I last saw him, since I’d been moved up to the offices.
“How did you know it was me?”
“I smelt your perfume, its vanilla… oh, and I recognized your voice of course”
I sat next to him as he told me about how he was going to town to hand in his lottery ticket; he’d won €12 and was mighty happy with himself. I asked him what he would do if he’d won the jackpot instead and with excitement on his face, he told me about the computer he would buy… not just any computer: a computer with very expensive software especially made for blind people. I simply cannot imagine not being able to see. My soul would shrivel and die if I could not see the colours of the sky, the world around me and the eyes of the people I love. I thanked God for contact lenses and the fact that I can see through them and even though it was Monday, I thanked God for my five senses.
On Tuesday, I stepped onto the bus wishing that I’d gotten under it instead of on it. A long day at work had drained the life out of me. My hands were tattooed red from the heavy bags I carried from the supermarket and my only joy was the fact that there was a seat open on the bus that I could sit on! As I sat down I noticed the toddler sitting in the seat in front of me. His mother wasn’t paying much attention as he stared at me from the piece of apple he was eating. Exhausted, I was slightly grateful that I didn’t have one of those waiting from me at home, from the smell coming from his diaper; he needed at little more attention than I was willing to give… And so I smiled, and he smiled back. So I pulled my tongue out at him and he laughed. I then put my hands on his chair and he laughed as he tried to smack them before I took them away. Today I couldn’t hear the buss’s engines because all I heard was the giggling and laughter of a happy toddler. Before I got off the bus, I decided that maybe having one of those at home could be rejuvenating rather than exhausting.
On Wednesday I got home, stripped to my socks and sang to my hairbrush to Jennifer Lopez’s new song. I hit a high note, I danced… and I slipped whilst doing a double turn in my socks. I fell asleep on my couch after dancing the equivalent to a week’s aerobics’ class and the last thought that went through my mind was how lucky I was to have bought an apartment with double, soundproof walls and windows.
On Thursday, I called my new client to let him know that I had everything set for him to sign. Before I could tell him who was calling he identified me saying that my voice was unmistakable. Two hours later when he came knocking on my door, I identified him before he could ask me if I was the person he was looking for. When he asked me how I knew I simply answered that his voice was also unmistakable. Twenty minutes later, I’d earned a new contract, a new client and a cup of coffee. While I drank my coffee, I realized how grateful I was, that most of my clients were people.
On Friday, I walked into the cafeteria surprised to find that my boss had decided to have lunch with the simpletons. Having reserved the special menu for the day, I was well aware that anyone that hadn’t reserved the preferred dish (codfish with cream) would be eating the liver. Standing behind me in line, it became clear to me that my boss would not be eating the preferred dish. He had forgotten to reserve just as he’d forgotten to inform me that he would be on holiday as from Monday, it seemed just fair that he reaped the rewards of his lack of consideration. But just as it was my turn, I asked the cook to take a share from my plate and from my colleagues and like magic, there was suddenly codfish with cream for my boss’s lunch. He sheepishly thanked me and my colleagues and I was grateful to God that I was still able to share with someone who had more than me.
On Saturday there was a dinner and a party to go to. Running late as usual, I was still in my towel when my friend rang at my door. To add frustration to the shortage of time, I went into a fashion crisis and tried on five tops before finally settling with the brown one that I’d been wearing frequently. My friend watched me as clothes flew in and out the cupboard and sighed. Her baby hadn’t let her sleep that morning and weariness was evident on her face. She sat on my bed and for an instant I caught her empty look staring back at me. Men will never comprehend the power of make up! All it took was the heart shaped chain my brother had given me, my favourite blue eye shadow, some mascara and some lip gloss to bring out the radiance from her soul onto her face. I sat in wonder at how little it actually takes to bring out the life and energy in a person.
Today I watched my cousin walk away, after experimenting in the kitchen; we had a great lunch that followed with a movie I’d been dying to watch ever since I’d read the book. Message in a bottle by Nicholas Sparks had been one of my favourite books and Kevin Costner certainly did justice to the main character: Garret Blake. There were moments of joy, laughter, sadness and romance. I was glad to see it and even gladder that my cousin was here to see it with me. As I gave her a hug goodbye I was glad that I no longer had to travel oceans just to be with her and that most of my family was a phonecall away.
I lay alone in my bed… I switched off the TV, the radio and the computer. The washing machine is off and phones aren’t ringing… there’s absolute silence. I block out the voices in my head one by one until the only one I can hear was my own. As I stare at the red liquid metamorphoses in my lava lamp, I try to find pictures from the round shapes it makes. There is no song I want to hear, no movie I want to see and nobody I want to talk to, I’m content with simply laying here with my chin on my hands watching my lava lamp. I read somewhere that to appreciate time, you should end the day by crossing out the date on the calendar and saying to yourself “There went another day of my life that I’ll never get back”. Keeping this in mind, I thank God for the week that went past and hoped that if the following week wasn’t any better than the last than that at least it should be filled with magic moments like those that happened this week that went by. Before I fall asleep, I’ll ask myself if I was happy this week and then I’ll reply “Well Sunshine, you weren’t sad and so therefore, you must’ve been happy.”