There are times when we look at the world and feel despair. Events over the months of 2016 and part way across the threshold of 2017, have given us justifiable cause for such malaise.
Trump will be president within days. The Syrians are either forgotten or vilified, Britain is leaving the EU, the weather has turned to murk and it’s cold. Underlying it all is the common theme of hate and fear and it’s all fueled by the need for power. Xenophobia is a weapon of mass destruction and yet it is allowed to be wielded time and time again, not for a greater good, but for the good of a tiny minority.
What has happened to humanity? Some of us are outraged but not enough of us. Are the rest of us just apathetic then? How has it come to this?
There will be a women’s march in London, against Trump next week, just ahead of his inauguration, and I’m considering going with my daughter. But Trump is not the disease, he is simply the symptom of a system which demands that we look out only for ourselves. The individual will always be greater than the group because as individuals, we have tasted ego and it is a heady cocktail rush of me, me, me! And it’s highly addictive!
Research has shown that happiness is not achieved from helping ourselves, but by helping others. It can be gleaned from gratitude and noticing all the beauty that we are surrounded by.
The winter months in England are notorious for carrying, in its wake, a fugue of depression. Sometimes the sun won’t be seen for days, with a steady unsatisfying, grey drizzle, forming a kind of hazy veil over the world we see. It’s hard to see the beauty with branches bare overhead and hues of grey underfoot. Where to find the happiness here?
To recap, the world is filled with racists and the weather is shit!
At times like these I miss the Indian sun and the certainty of belonging with the rest of the brown folk. I miss waking up when it’s light outside. I miss the heat.
Again, I ask, where is the beauty? Where is my happiness?
I search and I search and then I sit down and cry. Just then, my son of five enters the room and I dry my tears quickly. He is hungry and I check the time. I fix him a snack and he’s grateful. He grins with the double gap between the top row of his teeth and hugs me. He fits perfectly into my embrace and I into his. It is I now, who is grateful.
The following day, I am observed teaching at work and am told that I need to jump around more, use different voices to entertain and educate the children I teach. It doesn’t really matter that I am in pain from the bleeding I endure every month, that the headache that accompanies it for days makes me dull and irritable. It’s no excuse. I know this, but I tell them anyway. Just because I want them to, need them to, not judge me. But they judge me and I want to scream.
It’s been raining continuously the whole day and it remains dark. By the time I leave school, the sun has already set but the stars have appeared. The moon has risen low in the sky, shadowed by ghostly clouds. It peeps in and out and it follows us, playing hide and seek all the way back on our drive home.
My daughter and I are delighted. I send the children inside and my daughter brings out the camera for me. “Take it with the tree, Mummy,” she says. The bare branches, the same bare branches form a perfect silhouette and I take a few shots with different settings. The results are satisfying.
I wait a day before I upload the images and look at them. It sustains me. These moments sustain me, I suppose until the spring, much like the branches which are bare now, but not forever.
And we remind ourselves, “…this too shall pass…”