Sunday, January 2, 2011

Stories from the hiatus 2: What is it that brings on a smile?

May be, champagne overflowing the glasses? I guess not only that can create a happy smile.

Happiness is a heady mixture of the feeling of being in the company of people who celebrate life not only with the molecules of the chemical elements, variously christened as wine, champagne, vodka and their likes. You need someone to spill it from your glass of pleasure. You need the company of people who care to talk to you and to listen to you; the company of people who create the arbitrary molecules of experience that you can call life.

The finest experience of this Christmas eve is a rather natural phenomenon when you have all the eight people strumming guitars and singing. It was the after-dinner song carnival that filled the wooden house with a throbbing vibration of music.

After a long day of preparing for the I-lost-count-of-the-number-of-courses meal spanning a mind boggling 5 hours, the father started humming a song which soon became a full-house chorus! Just when I was thinking now people will gradually doze off on the sofas and the armchairs and on the dining table, there was a fluster of activity across the room. The uncle was busy with a group of possibly-amateur connoisseurs of vodka, the grandma was lazily reclining on the sofa with one of her grandchild and chatting like sixteen-year old friends. the youngest kid was cuddling into the sofa, while the three gorgeous sisters were, by now, singing full-throttle.

It was like being a third person narrator in a novel. I was there, mouthing the only words that I had remembered from the last night's singing ritual at Angelique and Jerome's home :  Jolie bouteille, sacrée bouteille .... And as I observed the magical vibrancy of all the voices in the chorus, I realised they are singing for the joy of it. A simple fact, but wondrous in a strange mundane way!

They have sung these songs many times and yet when they were singing these when the eve of christmas had walked into the day of christmas, waves of joy and peace filled the mind. The songs were not religious alone. They were the songs of life - ranging from the drunkard's plea to his loving bouteille  to help him quit drinking, to the song filled with painful memories of the Jewish concentration camps, to hymns. 

This Christmas dinner, could have forced me into the cliched expression of Christmas being the festival of time spent with family and all that. As I looked at the faces of the mother and the father, who brought up their six kids, not in any other excess but in the excess of life and a strange force of living life up to the potential that each of them have.

The Christmas clause is the potential to walk on. The potential to have the courage to follow your dreams, knowing well that they are not really Columbusque in scope. Our acts in our little lives do not change the worldscape of others. The single day of the Christmas celebrations do not drown our thousand conflicts. What it does is that, it  re-affirms the hope that we can walk together, in spite of our differences. That we can create music and be alive by embracing each moment. The clause of Christmas is possibly the inherent truth of life ... be here, be now. And that will make us smile.

P.S. Though the "Stories from the hiatus" series is concluded with this post, the experiences from this christmas spent with a marvellous family will keep cropping up in various posts for certain. This is a conscious decision of the blogger. The experience of having met these  special people can not solely be confined in a series on a singular event. As I realise it now, it is not only an experience of christmas, it is an experience of life.

Image: song-carnival post christmas eve dinner.


Somdatta Bhattacharya said...

Beautiful! I walked into that house, into that room, amidst those people, and could almost hear them sing. Great job, third person narrator. You brought alive memories!!

Susmita said...

Am so happy that i could share the joy with you! thank you so much Somdatta !

sup said...

I loved this post though i m reading this quite late - "happiness is a happy mixture. ..." is bringing an understanding smile on my face :-) yes i know that very precious very fleeting feeling called happiness. And the picture of guitar players is bringing back memory of a very nice movie called "once" - watch it if u haven't already.

Susmita said...

@sup: thank you for being part of the understanding of happiness :) ...
i haven't watched the movie as yet, will watch it soon ... thanks for suggesting :)