Happiness Hawkers

It was a sunny day in Ranchi. The soaring temperatures made people volatile, ever ready to erupt. This wasn’t new though, the people of Ranchi were easily overwhelmed by inconvenience. They were programmed to be. That’s why, in the hot months whenever the dust settled on the road, it made it difficult for pedallers and pedestrians. When potholes formed after showers, the people of Ranchi grew mad.

Today was no different and while the heat was resented by many, it served as an opportunity for a minority- The Happiness Hawkers. They brought shiny bottles of red, blue, purple and yellow potions, all huddled together in a hill of sugary happiness. The caps were yellow and sealed, marked with the molar concentration of the syrup that they enclosed. Some were dilute- enough to let you cool down the heaty rage while others could take you to sweet ecstasy. The bottles clanked against one another, chiming in streets, drawing everyone’s attention. People’s eyes spoke of desire and while some could only desire others bought cartons of happiness to take home.

“Daddy, why are we selling happiness, can’t everyone just feel it like I do? For free?”

“No darling, I’m afraid, life isn’t meant for the happy. You, too, will grow out of it someday.”

“Well, if everyone can’t find happiness, where does this come from?” Khushi asked with wonder and wide eyes, pointing at a pink bottle labelled- “0.8M Happiness- 3 hours of pure euphoria.

“The fairies in heaven make it and they give it to me when these fools need it.” her father replied without making eye contact.

“Daddy, when was the last time you were happy without-”

No sooner did those words leave her mouth, when a customer interrupted them. He wanted enough for his entire family.

Later that night, two things swam laps through the ocean of Jatin’s mind. He wondered endlessly about the last time when truly felt happiness in all its purity. He realised that he had needed 200mL even at the time of Khushi’s birth. “Has it been this long since this chronic apathy first struck?” He asked himself.

Jatin yearned for those feelings that he once knew as a little boy. He remembered the sound of his giggle, how it sounded like grains of sand seeping out of one’s grasp to soon strike the ground. He wondered how he felt when his Baba was taken by the cruel king. He recalled the salinity on his face, the sound of him crying and the racking of his body. As terrible as it felt, he yearned for that feeling. He wished that there was an account of his feelings, a documentary of him also being human before life drained him of his feelings.

The joy he felt was nothing more than a high. He wondered if he could tell Khushi the truth of happiness, how it was manufactured and how many lives it took. Under the influence, he did not have the heart to tell her that happiness was manufactured from the souls of the children of some of the happiest communities. Everyday, hundreds of children are sacrificed, they are stuffed into tiny ovens and heated until they’re but a plasma of emotions.

He knew that telling her would cause more harm than good. If anything, she would only become a callous vessel like everyone else sooner than either of them would have liked.

Author: Vedant Vaswani

Editor: Alekhya Gahilot

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