A Bowl Of Happiness
A Bowl Of Happiness7 mins 11.4K 7 mins 11.4K
A Bowl of Happiness
Kalia skipped home jubilantly. “Look here! Look here!” he cried out to his wife, who stared in astonishment at the money bag dangling from his hand. “B-But how?” she stared.
“I was trying to sell the bananas when a group of exhausted travellers came by and bought the whole bunch!” he bounced up and down in delight. “Do you know what this means? It means I can go to the market tomorrow!” he did a little jig around the room.
“Perfect! Oh, and…” she cast a dark look at a closed door to her left. “Munni is upset again, could you go and ask her why? She won’t answer me, well… she never does,” his wife walked away, leaving him to face his ten-year-old daughter.
He entered the room softly and sat beside her and pushed her hair away from her eyes.
“What’s the matter this time, Munni?” he asked her kindly.
“I-I-I lost my n-new k-kite!” she sniffled. “Remember the rainbow colored one with flower designs on it, Papa? I l-lost it!” she wailed.
“Hush, darling. How about I get you a new kite from the market tomorrow?” he suggested.
“N-No. I want something that lasts forever, something that won’t break or tear,”
Munni said thoughtfully. “Yes, I got it! I want some happiness, Papa,” she looked at him solemnly.
“Er… darling, does it have to be that? I mean… I can get you so many wonderful new toys,” he bit his lip.
“I want only happiness! I don’t want anything else! I want happiness, and happiness only!” she shrieked. “Why can’t you get it for me?” she demanded.
“Well… it’s just that, well, happiness is so hard to get, darling. I don’t know if any shop sells a single sliver of it anymore. Only the oldest shops might have a bit,” he tried to dissuade her, but she was adamant.
“I want only happiness and nothing else. I want an entire bowl of it!” Munni cried, tears started streaming down her sallow cheeks.
“Alright, alright,” he said hurriedly. “If it’s a bowl of happiness you want, it’s a bowl of happiness you’ll get!” he consoled her determinedly. When he came out, his wife was waiting for him anxiously with a long list in her hand.
“So? What does she want this time?” she demanded warily.
“Munni wants happiness… a bowl of happiness,” he said resolutely before taking the list out of her hands.
“I-Is that so? W-Well then, be sure to get her what s-she w-wants,” she spluttered.
Kalia set out in a pompous mood in his bullock cart the next day morning. While his wife waved smilingly, his daughter gave him an earnest look, and Kalia knew very well what it meant. He had to get a bowl of happiness somehow, no matter what.
One could smell and hear the market from afar. The smell of grilled corn and hot tea flying out the doors could be sensed from miles away. And one could hear the bustling crowd jumping from one shop to the other. Ah… the market was a wonderful place for everyone. Kalia walked straight into a shop with a colourful sign that read ‘Chandu’s
Dhotis and Saris’.
“Kalia, my old friend!” the shopkeeper said, who was none other than Chandu himself. Chandu was a jolly, plump little man with a thick moustache on his upper lip that he constantly stroked.
“Hello, Chandu! How are you?” Kalia greeted his old friend with a hearty hug.
“I haven’t seen you around the market in a while. It must be for something special.
So, what would you like?” Chandu demanded.
“A lovely, silk sari for my wife. And Oh, while I’m at it, maybe a nice, silk dhoti for myself too,” Kalia said.
Chandu smiled and walked towards a big display of saris. “These are the nicest and silkiest. They are, of course, the best in all the land,” he twirled his thick moustache proudly.
After Chandu had shown him the saris, each more colourful than the next, Kalia decided on an elaborately decorated sari of green, red and yellow.
After visiting more than a hundred (or so it seemed) shops and buying his wife’s many, many needs, he set out to get his daughter’s one request.
Kalia headed to the oldest part of the market which consisted of three rickety old shops. He entered the first shop that was filled with boiling pots on purple fire and a man, with his bushy moustache and turban, was sitting up front.
“Excuse me?” Kalia walked towards him.
“Yes?” the man demanded in a deep voice.
“I was wondering if I could get a bowl of happiness…” Kalia trailed away.
“A bowl of happiness?” the man asked before grinning. “Of course, you can get one.
But, you have to find all the ingredients first…” he smiled slowly again before breaking into a jovial little song.
‘From the mountains to the seas
Your search will have to be,
Everything you see.
Whether it’s the bushes or the trees
Will hide something in them
Maybe a precious little gem!
So, these are the things you will need, my friend.
I just hope you won’t give up till the end!’
The man put his hands together and stated the list of ingredients. “A pinch of salt from
the Himalayas, a white pearl from a clam at the heart of the Indian Ocean, a thread of silk from China and five kilos of gold stirred together in a bowl,”.
Kalia nearly jumped out of his skin! Five kilos of gold?! That was outrageous! Kalia
kicked a boiling hot cauldron on his way out and burnt the shopkeeper’s foot, who
bounced around on one foot and threw a few choice words at Kalia.
Kalia nervously walked into the second shop where he was greeted by a skinny,
monkey-like fellow, with a toothless grin.
“Llew, olleh ereth!” he cried senselessly.
“What did you say?” Kalia demanded cautiously.
“I ma gniklat sdrawkcab! T’nod uoy dnatsrednu?” he said again nonsensically.
“I’m sorry, I don’t understand what you are saying,” said a bewildered Kalia,
backing away and exiting the shop. The monkey-like fellow chattered away to himself
Kalia went into the third shop warily. He didn’t want to meet any more cauldron-
stirring or gibberish-talking people. This time, an old woman with grey hair under a
tattered shawl gestured him closer.
“Who are you and what do you want my child?” she rasped.
“I am Kalia, and am looking for a bowl of happiness for my daughter, please,” he
repeated the same thing for what felt like the hundredth time.
“A bowl of happiness? A bowl of happiness?” she repeated again. Kalia hoped that
she wasn’t going to say that he needed five kilos of gold.
“Don’t worry I’m not like that Cauldron Cake or the man who talks backwards.
Well… I do have something that could help… But only your daughter can see it. No one
else should open it,” she warned him before fumbling in her voluminous skirt and held
out a grubby little package. “Here,” she smiled. “Your daughter will understand the
Kalia went home, a muddled man. “Did you get it? Did you get it?” Munni pounced
on him excitedly when he arrived.
“Yes, I did, little one,” he rustled her head affectionately before handing her the dirty
Munni ran into her room and in one millionth of a second, Kalia could hear the
sound of paper tearing and a squeal.
Munni opened the package carefully and peered at its content. A small bowl was
there, she had expected it to be filled with golden syrup or shimmering crystals, but
instead the bowl was made of mirrors. The bowl was made of MIRRORS. And every
mirror reflected nothing else but Munni herself. At first, she was shocked. What was
this? Was this the so-called happiness her father had promised her? But then, a wave a
realisation dawned upon her.
You couldn’t buy happiness in a market or at a fair. You couldn’t find it in the oldest
shop no matter how hard you looked. You have to find it inside yourself, for yourself.
Munni smiled contentedly, for the first time. She had finally found happiness.