Monday, April 28, 2008

On Happiness, Among Other Things

Yesterday, our grandmother celebrated her 79th. In keeping with the family’s tradition, we got together and were all too happy to spend the day with her and be with one another. Ours is an extra-large family and so it was a day-long affair that started with breakfast and ended with the pot-luck merienda senna. Lunch was as sumptuous as sumptuous can be; with Tatay around as our designated cook (Laicka insists we call him chef).

The kids were rowdy and noisy the whole day, while the teens were either playing cards or watching television. And all the while the elders—my aunts and uncles, including Lola—teased me about my impending spinsterhood. Oh, well… It’s never easy being the eldest apo

Later in the day, while everyone is full with food, laughter, and stories, my niece came to me and asked me a profound question. “Tita, happy ka ba?” And I said, “Of course, baby. Tita is very, very happy.” But she followed it through with another question. “Why are you happy? Can you describe happiness to me?”

The moment she asked me the third question, I was almost crying. How can an eight-year-old kid ask these questions? And so I did try my best to describe happiness and being happy to her. I brought her to the balkonahe and sat her on a very comfortable and cozy spot. I asked her if she is comfortable, and she said yes. And then we talked about happiness and being happy.

I told her to look back to the day when her Dad brought home her pet rabbit…

I told her to look back to the day her baby sister Louise was born…

I told her to look back at the last Christmas morning we spent at Lola’s house… when she got her cash register toy and Lolo gave her a thousand-peso bill…

I told her to look back at her last recognition day when she was given an outstanding pupil award (that’s the highest honor her school gives to top students)…

After the last “look-back”, she smiled. She understood it all.

Looking back now, I do not want to think that my niece does not have a concept of happiness at all. She knew all about it, and yet, she needed to talk about it. And she felt that the best person to discuss it with her was me. And it felt good to talk about happiness and being happy with a child. It made me feel like a child, too.

But Laicka’s questions brought me so much… Emotion, remembrances… and even pain. But why pain? It brought me pain because it is only with pain that I recognized happiness… But that’s not what I told my niece, after all…

1 comment:

  1. Happiness is something that seem to be a far fetch acquisition as we get older by numbers and wisdom...but it's also surprising that happiness actually comes from what seemed to the adults as a "meager, mundane thing"

    ReplyDelete

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