By Volunteer Sakshi Gawande – FHI Mumbai
Of late, a lot of people have been telling me that I look happy. And I have come to believe that. But my perception about happiness, I think has changed entirely when I went for Fly Higher India NGO – FHI’s event to Ankur Baal Vikas Kendra, Titwala, Mumbai. The theme for the month of February ’19 was “Broaden your Horizon”.
Mumbai is such a big city in terms of length and breadth. The place we were visiting was around 2.5 hours away from the place where I stay. Unlike any other Sunday, the Sunday of 24th February started on a very negative note. By the time I had reached the designated venue, I was tired. I was tired because I had to wake up early and travel so far in the sun. But, once I reached there, all that feeling vanished. Not exaggerating, it did not even take a single minute to connect to those “Happy” souls.
When I reached the location, I noticed there was no proper shelter provided to these children, there was water scarcity, there wasn’t a proper ground, every child had a sad and heart wrenching story to narrate, but still the very spirit that they are alive, was enough for them to stay happy. Seeing them, that’s when I questioned myself am I really happy? And to my own surprise, I couldn’t quite answer the question straight without going round each house a number of times.
Without putting a total damper on things, when we’ve lived with trauma and conditions attached to our lives, I don’t believe we own that particular feeling. True happiness comes from the soul. This is what I learnt from the children that day.
On my way back, I started to think that why is it that the people who are from a well-to-do background, very often, find happiness in money, materials, luxuries. I narrowed my thoughts and started thinking about myself. I still could not answer the question, “Am I really happy?” Those children had every single reason to crib about they are or have gone through, and I genuinely have none. In reality, it is them who should be complaining about everything but they were content with whatever they had. On the other side, there was me who had every possible thing that any other child born in normal circumstances could have but ironically I am never really happy and content with whatever I have. The feeling of wanting more has always resided within me since childhood. Right from wanting an extra toffee as a kid, to wanting the very new gadget as an adult.
But February 24, 2019 can easily be claimed to be the day my life changed for me. Not only was it an eye opening experience but I felt like I was living in denial. My existence was nothing more than a pseudo existence. And again, I am not exaggerating, but this deep sense of realisation was not momentary, it hit me like a ray of sun and is going to remain with me forever. Now, I feel more than blessed to have my family in my life and blessed that I’m doing what I love to do. If given a chance, I wouldn’t jump at the chance of having lived a different life. I would have changed all the moments wherein I cribbed about something or the other into appreciating what I had and don’t have.
But thinking of happiness and self satisfaction led me to think of another question, what is the gap that prevails between the underprivileged and us? Does it even exist?
After pondering upon this thought of “THE” gap, I had a very clear answer in my head and that was a “BIG-BIG” YES. There is a big gap between how they perceive things and how we do. More importantly, there is a large demarcation between the trauma that they have had to face and the trauma that we go through. There is a gap between the definition of their problems and ours. And lastly, there is certainly a huge gap between our idea of life and their idea of life. There are so many gaps that the list can go on and on. The role that FHI plays here is in more ways than one. All these children need is somebody to hear them out, wherein they could voice out their opinions in which the child is not concerned about who would judge them based on their stories. FHI provides them that platform and it is one out of the many wonderful roles that FHI plays. On the other hand, unintentionally, FHI helps people (like me) to realise the purpose of life and understand the deeper sense of one’s existence. It teaches us to to dig deep and peel the layers and give a chance to introspect one’s life and analyse where things started to get wrong.
Analysing this difference in the ideologies has been an eye opening experience for me. Analysing this gap, led to the broadening of my horizon about a happy life and happy existence. I got a chance to have a deeper sense of myself and distinguish between the right and wrong. Now that I know the things I should be focusing on, I can firmly say that I am on a journey of staying happy. I have taken off and I am ready to Fly High! Higher from all the trauma, stress, materialistic good that I as an individual at some point in my life have gone through. I have promised myself to Fly High! And Fly Higher! Because in the end, I am going to be the person who is incharge of my journey and of my destination and I have got two choices, either to crib or to Fly High towards a happy place and a life of self-satisfaction. And I, for sure, have definitely made my choice.