I am not sure how to define happiness, but a definition that I love is it being a series of perfect moments. A perfect moment, when the world is alive, everything works and mind soars. We can keep looking for it, but, it flickers into our lives for an instant without warning and melts away in a hurry leaving that moment entrenched in our minds forever. I had a perfect moment a week back - That Sunday, a little late in the night, I was driving from home to pick up my family from the railway station and the radio was on. The radio had Amitabh Bachchan singing 'Rang Barsey' in his rough voice, magically there was no vehicle in sight on the road and my thoughts were on how my daughter and son would yell at me when they see me at the railway station. I felt no care in the world at that time, I was singing Rang Barsey with Amitabh and my thoughts were with my family and I was all alone in the world. I drove steadily for a few minutes and as the song tapered down and I saw more vehicles on the road - "Phoof" that moment vanished.
There are then these perfect moments which stretch for a longer duration and some times a perfect book. Many years back, I requested one of my friends, on his trip back to India, to buy the word-less book 'The Arrival' by Shaun Tan. The moment I laid my eyes on the book, I was enchanted. Here was a book that tells the story of migrants like none other. I lay awake late that night, poring over the book page by page. The pages were filled with agony, sadness & wretchedness as a man moves from his house in search of a better place - a place where he and his family can live without fear and make this new place a home. Although the book was filled with pain, there was always a sliver of hope that was omnipresent - hope that his life and his family's life will improve, hope that he can understand the new language in the new place, hope that he can find his corner in this new wide world. While the clock ticked away, I continued going back through the pages again and again and each time discovered a nuance that I missed earlier. Here was a book that tells the story of migration - the story of hope, the story of an individual. And finally, I had a personal epiphany - migration is not about politics or about movement of people from one place to another - migration is about an individual. The reason for migration are many - some do it for the riches, some do it to escape a world that they cannot tolerate any more, some do it to live in warmer climates. In spite of it all, the migration is about an individual. It is the story of an individual and his or her hope.
When I was staying in Trichy as a kid, we were surrounded by families who had moved from Sri Lanka. They moved with just their basic necessities, worked hard and made a living in their new place. They were originally from Tamil Nadu and had come back to Tamil Nadu due to violence in Sri Lanka. But for them, their homes were still in Yalpanam. Every time, there was something new, they would crowd around the television sets and discuss whether it was time to go back. Every time, they talked about Yalpanam, there was a yearning in their voice - that yearning to go back to their homes. Although they appeared happy as our neighbours and did not have to stay in camps, I always felt they left a part of their life in Yalpanam and that part kept calling them back. They seem to have left the part of life that enjoys the "perfect moment" at Yalpanam. It is long since I have met them, I heard some of them have gone back, some of them have decided to stay back. I hope they find their "perfect moments".
Thank you for hanging around while I meandered around with my thoughts on happiness, the perfect book and my old neighbours. All these meanderings had to do with introducing this year's CROCUS theme. The theme is Migration and Exploration. We would be presenting various books that touch upon this theme. I hope you would enjoy it as much as we love presenting them.
I hope you find your own "perfect moment" and the "perfect book".