One day, an old turbaned man arrived at a colorful, bustling bazaar in India. He set up a signboard at a corner – I Sell Happiness for Two Paise.
Many dismissed him as a con man, but a lot came out of curiosity. A man selling happiness was rare! “Hmmm, happiness for two paise? Can you show me happiness?” One mustached man said sarcastically.
“Sure, come sit by me”, said the happiness seller. By now, a small crowd had gathered to see the “tamasha”.
The customer threw two paise at him. The seller took out a carved mirror from his “potli” and put it in front of the man. The customer’s face contorted at first, and then he burst out laughing.
“Bravo! It’s strange, but he does sell happiness!” The customer announced.
Another customer came, and he went away laughing too. Some customers smiled, some laughed and, many rolled on the ground with laughter. Everyone thought the happiness seller was a magician.
One little orphan boy watched the seller from far, and thought – “The mirror seems magical, but what does it show?”
By evening, the crowd around the seller lessened, and he noticed the boy.
“Son, do you want to buy happiness, too?” he called out. The boy nodded but explained, he had no money.
“Well, I can always barter,” the seller said.
“Seller, I have just hardship and sadness to offer!” said the boy.
“Well, no harm in offering that to the magical mirror. Let’s see how it conjures happiness for you,” the seller said, kindly.
The boy sat and offered his hardship and sadness to the mirror…
What ensued was laughter… unrestrained laughter… from the child! His infectious laughter came from his pure heart, and soon, it spread all over the village. No one knew why everyone else was laughing.
The happiness seller had no idea the mirror could give THAT kind of happiness. After the boy stopped laughing, he asked – “Son, I am amazed. I am 100 years old now but I never saw anyone experiencing such BLISS! What happened, tell me?”
The boy smiled and said, “Dear seller, thank you for this great opportunity. Let me explain the reason.
The first man’s happiness came from jealousy. The mirror showed his enemy falling into the ditch. So, he laughed. The second man’s happiness came from ambition. He saw himself traveling to a new land and earning wealth. So, he laughed.
Everyone’s happiness came from something they wanted – their desire! They got happiness in the same proportion.
My happiness was based on the act of surrender – of my hardships and sadness. I let go of my burden, stress…and what stayed in me was …nothing…just peace. This inadvertently filled me with ecstatic laughter. The mirror showed me so free and joyful, and I laughed. And it spread everywhere.”
The turbaned man folded his hand and said – “My child, a divine being told me I will meet my successor here. And I found you! All my life, I sold happiness, became rich but never understood it. Today I saw it. So, will you be my companion in spreading real happiness…?”
The boy smiled and nodded.
The next morning, people from far and wide rushed to the bazaar to buy a fresh dose of happiness. Who doesn’t want happiness for two paise? What they didn’t understand was the priceless truth – real happiness does not come from what we GET but what we LET GO of…
Villagers desperately searched for the happiness seller. But he had already left with his successor.
My book, Happy’s Hairy Tale – The corona Cut, has been accepted as a part of Indie Minnesota Anthology – a digital collection of books by Minnesota authors. This means my book will be available in the patron libraries across Minnesota. And it is all due to God’s blessings and entirely your good wishes, dear reader.
I am really grateful to everyone – those who helped in creating, editing, and promoting this book, those who bought the hardcover simply to encourage me, those who read the eBook and sent positive messages, and each one of you who has ever liked, commented and enjoyed my works.
It is because of you that I stay motivated to tell a story despite numerous roadblocks Indie author perennially encounters.
This blessed morning, I received this email –
Congratulations, you have successfully moved into the library space! Your book, Happy’s Hairy Tale – The Corona cut, is now available in Indie Minnesota, a collection of books from local indie authors available exclusively on the BiblioBoard Library mobile and web platform. This collection is available to patrons of participating libraries all across your state/region. That’s right, your book is now available with just one click of a button to thousands of new readers in your state/region!
Writing is a solitary and laborious process and recognitions like this uplifts a writer. And you, dear reader, have been an important part of my writing process. What Would I Do Without You!
Hope this New Year brings much happy news and recognition for you and your family as well. Do keep visiting this blog site, as you may come across many free bedtime tales, new book releases, breathtaking pictures of Minnesota, motivational messages and other valuable stuff. Sending best wishes your way…big thanks! And once again, have a blissful New Year.
(The Story Till Now – A 27-year-old young man named Bond falls off from his balcony while clicking a stunt selfie with his girlfriend. He refuses to move on after his death and stays stuck in Apartment 328, where he has spent the most beautiful days of his life. His parents and girlfriend leave after his funeral but he is unable to move on due to his extreme grief.
Slowly, he comes to know more about the after-death existence and a funny reality – he has become quite a creepy ghost himself. He is sighted by many of the residents in the apartment complex. It is well-accepted that no one would rent the apartment but Bond is surprised to find that an Indian couple has rented the flat. A rare one-sided friendship develops between the ghost and the Indian lady, who is depressed and friendless in a foreign country. She is a typical case of a dependent, Indian visa wife in the USA. Her relationship with her husband worsens and she runs towards the balcony to jump off. At that moment, the ghost appears in front of her…Read more to know what happens next…)
Like a scared cat, she ran to grab her phone. I almost laughed. Just a moment before, she was ready to give up on her life but, desperate self-preservation prevailed on seeing a ghost. Maybe ghost sightings could do magical wonders in pushing people from one extreme to the other.
Breathlessly, she dialed her husband’s number but his phone was on airplane mode since he was flying. She dived towards the bedroom to grab the iPad – contacting any living person in the world was her sole motive. Shivering like a leaf, she face-timed her folks back in India and tried to show me – the tall, weird-American ghost, on the face-time. But I had already disappeared by floating away from the selfie spot.
I heard her mother chanting some mantra loudly. And then, they all began to chant Sanskrit shlokas in chorus. Holding the photo of her god, she obsessively chanted to drive me away while I gloomily sat observing her from the balcony. It was a heavy night as my sole companion in a lonely world wanted to get rid of me.
Techie returned the following evening and although he didn’t believe a word of what she said, he brought a funny looking priest to exorcise me. Then followed an elaborate ceremony accompanied by loud chants and bangs. It was quite interesting to watch the ghost-exorcising ceremony. However, she was under a lot of stress so, I moved away from them.
I decided to stay away as much as I could. They had no clue that the living world was far more savage than our ghost world – where tormented and stuck souls lived. But would they believe me? I made the dark ceiling of the store-room as my new haunt.
Meanwhile, Techie turned over a new leaf since that day. Perhaps, he thought his wife was hallucinating and losing her mind. And that made him consciously make efforts to take care of her. He cooked for her, fed her, and cheered her up. He even got her enrolled in English lessons and driving classes. Life brightened a little for them as they began to talk more.
She had also got another companion! Techie gifted her a handsome talking parrot; she loved it. For hours, she would teach the parrot to talk. I hardly went near the parrot, as it would screech and round its eyes on seeing me.
One day, the fire alarm went off in our building. This was mostly an entertaining event for me because I had the pleasure of watching panicked human behavior. The authorities expected that the residents leave the building before the doors got sealed. She was alone and had never experienced these fire-alarm security measures but Mrs. Raju came to her rescue. They ran out of the building with her. The firefighters and the police arrived within minutes and they began to secure the place. I watched it all from the balcony.
But one particular thing caught my eye, Mrs. Raju was chatting with her and pointing fingers towards my apartment. What was she telling her about me?
After the incident, I strongly felt that she had become comfortable with my presence around the house. Maybe she had gathered that I was harmless. Maybe Mrs. Raju had related my sad death story and she was sympathetic… Maybe she had become used to me… or maybe I was reading too much into things!
Things started to look up for everyone in Apartment 328, but my indiscretion one fateful evening changed everything.
That day, Techie was chatting with her on the balcony. For a change, his conversation seemed entertaining to me. It was about his encounter with an Indian ghost in his childhood. I hovered closer to know more about my Indian counterpart. But lo! In a flash, I reached the ‘selfie’ spot, and unwittingly presented myself.
What a sight I might have looked – a tall American ghost hovering over them, trying to listen to a ghost story! My lady remained unperturbed but the effect on him was pretty disastrous. He grimaced, rubbed his eyes, and looked horrified. A scary ghost lived with them – this information was too much for his mind to process. He ran out of the apartment, dragging her with him. She tried to calm him down… but he was not in his senses.
The next day, I learned that he had decided to move out of the ‘haunted’ apartment. I saw them packing things up. She looked calm but Techie was super-stressed, fearful that I was lurking around.
Memories came flooding back of the days we spent together. The lady and I were partners in loneliness and distress. I remembered her spices, her films, Mr. Khan, and her Gods. Somewhere, someone was playing a haunting song again, giving dark background music to my dejection.
I escaped to the storeroom to avoid seeing my sole friend go. By evening, I listened to the sounds of things getting moved out, luggage dragged, and doors getting closed behind them. I was lonely once again.
It was dark when I came out on the balcony. There was silence everywhere; the mild fragrance of Indian spices was still there in the empty, dark rooms. I felt like I died again, and there was no closure.
Suddenly, I heard a screeching sound from the maple tree in front of my apartment. What was ‘Mitthu’ her talking parrot doing there? Did she set it free before leaving? The bird circled me and squawked- “Thank you from Mukta! Mukta means freedom! Be happy and free!.”
Mesmerized and energized, I spoke her name softly – Mukta! Mitthu was delivering her message. That was her ingenious way to communicate with me and express her gratitude for saving her life before leaving. I thought I had unwittingly helped Mukta when she was lonely and depressed, but she had come to me for a reason as well.
I spoke her name again, and something in me clicked. I had never paid attention to her name. ‘Mukta’ was a divine sign. Was it time to let go, to surrender my despair, and move on…be Mukt?
I whispered ‘Thank You’ to ‘Mitthu’ as it flew away to its freedom. I chose to follow the bird’s illuminated trail…wherever it took me. I felt I was blissfully accepting things, moving on, leaving all the bad as well as good memories of Apartment 328 behind me… to go wherever I was supposed to go!
(I had great fun writing this story. Hope you liked it. And thank you for being with the Ghost named Bond for the past three weeks.)
(The Story Till Now – A 27-year-old young man named Wilbert Bond falls off from his balcony while clicking a stunt selfie with his girlfriend. He refuses to move on after his death and stays stuck in Apartment 326, where he has spent the most beautiful days of his life. His parents and girlfriend leave after his funeral but he is unable to move on due to his extreme grief. Slowly, he comes to know more about the after-death existence and a funny reality – he has become quite a creepy ghost himself. Read more to know what happens next…)
One evening, the Asian Man ( I had nicknamed him Mr. Crocs), was watering plants in his apartment, which was right opposite to mine. I was melancholic and accidentally floated to the same ‘selfie’ spot, from where I had fallen off.
In a flash, my form seemed heavier; I felt I was materializing. I was acquiring a sort of shadowy structure that was close to my former physical body, on the spot that led to my death. Perhaps, I had left some intense energy there before dying. It felt good to have some form, although ghostly; it was quite an achievement for me.
But I couldn’t enjoy the finding for long because Mr. Crocs had spotted me. His reaction was priceless. His shock-stricken eyes almost came out of the sockets. He blinked twice or thrice and then ran inside, screaming in his language. I had never seen him unnerved before; it was hilarious to ruffle him out of his remarkable composure.
He came out again to check once more and ran back screaming. I moved away from the spot in a blink before he could get a heart attack as he was beginning to look very pale. The very next day, I saw a crowd on his balcony, geared with devices to record a ghost-sighting video.
This intrusion infuriated me. After the incident, I tried not to venture into the ‘selfie’ spot in daylight. It was annoying to have prying eyes on me. However, at night, the irrepressible feeling of having a presence, albeit shadowy, in the living world would overpower me.
And I would stand on my balcony after midnight, reminiscing about my girlfriend – hoping that I get a second chance to say good-bye to my love. I would also think of my parents and move around the house in an agitated state. I wondered whether the neighbors heard my horrible noises of agony.
Despite my best intentions, I got sighted by old Mrs. Wiederholt, who was taking in the night air by the pool. She looked startled for a second, and then the dear lady just crossed her heart. She knew Mr. Wiederholt was somewhere in my world. I tried to connect with the ghost of Mr. Wiederholt for companionship. I often played chess with Mr. Wiederholt when we were alive but he was not there in my dimension. He had moved on.
Often, creepy animals floated by me; occasionally, I saw some light beings too. The ghost-world perplexed me; there was so much to learn.
Mrs. Wiederholt had stopped reacting whenever she saw me and would leave me in peace. However, Mrs. Raju almost had a heart attack when she spotted me from the outside parking lot. ‘Aiyayiyoooo,’ she yelled and jumped towards the clueless Mr. Raju, who walked ahead carrying their sleeping boy. They were returning home from a late-night birthday party.
Mr. Raju was annoyed about being pushed but Mrs. Raju pointed towards my balcony and escaped abandoning her glittery sandals. Mr. Raju kept a brave face, walked faster, and faster… and finally, ran like a bullet towards the safety of the building holding the wailing kid.
I was not that scary, was I?
I became one of the most talked-about ‘non-living-being’ in the county. Everyone held me responsible for doing terrible things. I was ‘Mr. Nobody’ who stalked, scared, and harassed people. My ghost stories made kids go to bed on time.
Therefore, I was astonished when an Indian couple rented my apartment. Weren’t they aware that Apartment 326 was haunted by ME – the terrifying, blood-curdling ghost named Bond? (To be contd…)
A popular sad song played somewhere close while I stood looking at my crumpled body. My neck had broken, someone said. I agreed. It was a nasty fall; a wrinkled man announced. I agreed again.
She came running towards me and ran through me towards the crowd. The crowd made way for her. Breathless, shocked, and dazed, she looked at my dead body and broke down. The crowd feigned sympathy and enquired suspiciously about my fall. With great difficulty, she managed – He…he..fell off the balcony while taking our..selfie!
Her words came as an embarrassment to my detached self. Did people die like this? I mean, just like this? Being murdered was far better than death by foolishness. There was no drama, no twisted plot, not even some fancy-sounding sickness, just a stupid accident!
If only I could get sucked back in that body! It was a nice, healthy body filled with joy and energy just a couple of minutes back.
But the next moment, I just lay there like an empty reddish-white sack. But wait, who was I – that body or this? It was all so confusing or a bad dream, perhaps?
Someone in the crowd suggested it could be a suicide or murder. I looked at the speaker and recognized my neighbor – Mr. Crocs! His eyes looked even more prominent now as I hovered near him. “Do not look for cheap thrills Mr., it was just a foolish accident,” I whispered hoping to be heard. I didn’t want any more troubles for her.
Soon after, sirens wailed and men in uniforms appeared. They began their investigation and reaffirmed the truth – I had slipped off the balcony from my third-floor apartment while posing for a selfie with my girlfriend. Legalities ensued. Later, my parents and well-wishers arranged a funeral service at the famous Cross Point Church in my small town in the US, where solemn speakers took turns to speak about me in superlatives.
Before death, I never knew I was such a great son, boyfriend, brother, friend, colleague, neighbor. I remembered the same set of people calling me names at different times in my life. They had all changed opinions quite quickly! It felt nice listening to them. I was going to heaven, perhaps?
After my burial, I expected angels to descend and escort me to heaven. But nothing happened. Or was the Devil planning to claim me? I thought of my sins and considered myself quite eligible for hell. But he also didn’t show up. Death confused me. No God, No Devil. No Heaven, No Hell! Did religious talks and holy books contain nothing but a series of concocted tales? Were godmen lying all this while? I was the same person minus the body and its demands. Death did not bring answers. I said goodbye to my 27-year-old body with a broken neck and decided to go back to my apartment.
Back in the apartment, my parents sat holding hands. They looked older than I had seen them last. It was heartbreaking to see them in such a pathetic state. I heard sobs in the bedroom. My girlfriend was there. I wanted to reach out to her, to connect somehow.
However, things were different. I was stuck in an unknown dimension, from where I could watch but couldn’t communicate. My cell phone beeped. I saw – 3k likes on my Facebook obituary. Now, this was something that pepped up things a bit.
After a few days of untold misery, my parents flew back to Arizona and I watched her pack. She was moving out of our apartment. Memories came flooding back of those amazing days we had spent together, of nights filled with passionate love and bitter-sweet quarrels. I thought of a life not lived, tasks unfinished and wishes unfulfilled, and mourned my sudden death. The angst that followed was worse than my fall. I was miserable but stuck to the place where I had spent the most beautiful time of my short-lived life – Apartment No. 326.
Someone who had a bad sense of timing played the haunting song again as I watched my girlfriend go, forever!
A period of gloom filled my consciousness after she left. But I tried to adjust to my new status. I noticed there were various dimensions in our space. Sometimes, I watched shadows float by. I tried to communicate but none answered. It was unbearably lonely, but I did not want to move on. I was just not ready yet. Occasionally, some unusual sounds or sights would scare me and I would retreat to the furniture less bedroom. Later, an incident led me to believe that I was very creepy! And the residents of the Apartment Complex had named me – The Ghost Named Bond. (To be contd…)
When you know someone up there has got your back, you’re afraid no more. You soar, you dive, you float or you fall flat, nothing matters! You look up and say – you’ve got my back, why should I worry? And you smile at the thought of someone watching over you, loving you, protecting you and sometimes pushing you…so that you learn to stand up! But all along you know, it’s all for your own good!
(I took a small break from blogging. But I’m back my friends to share my life and thoughts with you almost every week. Sending lots and lots of love and peace your way!)