Money can’t buy happiness!

By Shanika Pitigala | Published: 2:00 AM Aug 6 2020
Columns Money can’t buy happiness!

By Shanika Pitigala

He sat in the shade of a humongous tree by the side of the busy city street that was almost the only shade available amidst the mechanically and ruthlessly fast moving traffic in Nugegoda when the sun started scorching down mercilessly on a day after intense rain, I observed him, lip syncing the words of the record of pirith that was being played at a nearby lottery ticket counter, He moved his head in a melancholy manner to the rhythm of the  pirith, while arranging his ‘goods’ under the shade of the tree. 

I saw him, I observed him in the few seconds that I got during a change of traffic lights from red to orange. There I had a glimpse of him for a few seconds. 

He occupied a constrained space that he could never call his own, but I am sure he occupies the shade of the huge tree and the billboard that was right above every single day. He was arranging his small hut, as he set the floor for the days business, the kiosk was now open to people who would fall in trouble in town. There he was mending what needed to be mended for others. Although I did have doubts about his own life being mended. 

What fascinated me most was the neatness of his arrangements and how he ornamented his little hut, it surprises me to see how gay he was this busy Saturday morning. He, proudly sat cross legged on the ground under the torn shabby tent cloth he had arranged as his roof. He pulled out precious pieces of broken umbrellas to be hung in front. He also had shoes. Most of them were one of a pair. He had handles of umbrellas, plastic pieces which he hung in an order Next he pulled out his tools; arranged them on the ground, now decorated with another piece of polythene. I must say he had chosen quite an impressive spot for his business. It had a double-edged view and customers could walk in from either direction to get their shoes and umbrellas mended or that too, those in a hurry. Yes, he was a cobbler preparing for a busy Saturday, sitting under the traffic light adjoining the crossing, a very strategic place, to really look at it. 

He was as happy and organised as he could be in this confined open space that he had, probably without any boundaries. It would, I am sure either increase or decrease daily because he wasn’t on rent. However, this is his choice of life, his choice of earning a living without loitering around the streets and begging for sympathy. This is his job, and in my eyes, he was the happiest businessman I saw that day, and for many more days to come. He is undoubtedly ‘a most wanted’ man on the streets during emergency ‘breakdown’ of shoes and umbrellas, especially on rainy days or when the sun scorches down on us. 

The question is, how happy are we in our space? Are you happy with your employer or employees? Are you happy as this man sitting under adverse weather conditions? 

It is a choice we all must make. Happiness does not always bang on your door, unless you are ready to welcome happiness. I know, it is strange from where I draw my inspiration and my choice to be happy and full of glee, but it does not matter from where it comes, whether it is from the gypsy reading the palm and predicting the future, the cobbler who mends shoes and slippers or the hairdresser who makes one look prettier on the outside than the inside!

Being happy and comfortable is our choice. This cobbler might go home to a million problems at the end of the day, probably unfed children and a roofless home but he starts his day with the blessings probably from his religion and sits there to patiently wait for a shoe to be mended, has a display of shoes which were probably never paid for or which he may have collected from a dump yard. Nevertheless, his kith and kin would probably feast at dinner with whatever he takes home and I am sure it is a feast for them everyday, even with the meagre earnings he has to offer hi family  compared to a table full of food, with no one to feast and a houseful of people but no laughter or conversation. 

Again, who is happier, he or we? Remember, “Happiness is not something readymade, it comes with your actions” and happiness will make you beautiful much more than any make-up in the world! 

By Shanika Pitigala | Published: 2:00 AM Aug 6 2020

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