Aboard to Joy

Hmm. Deep truth, yes? These were the lines from the “Everyday Hero Manifesto” (by Robin Sharma). This was one of the books I am determined to finish going by Francis Bacon’s advice, “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.” That is, some books are to be read-only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously; and some few are to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention. With this book, I was doing everything I could possibly do. I was in pursuit of the senses I had lost (smell and taste ). Nevertheless, one thing I learned was the importance of health which we take for granted. I decided to carry this book for the upcoming trip to my hometown.

We had just come out of quarantine on that day. My younger daughter got up and asked us if the results had come. Her eyes brightened when we showed the report and she was running around the house with joy as after 14 days of quarantine she is finally set free with a negative report. For the first time, I saw somebody dancing in front of me seeing a negative report.

We were almost done with our packing and the last-minute bag was kept partially filled; that is the bag I was closely watching whether that will tip the scale and it did. With all the loads and pieces of baggage, we landed in our hometown. My youngest cousin was getting married. It was an event that we had been waiting for for a few years now. The pandemic has a way of making a thriller out of the most mundane events. In fact, one of my friends checked if everything was going well. I told him “the only thing that is fixed is the venue and timing of marriage.” My extended family was on their toes including the bride and the bridegroom as they had to come from the US. We all had to stay positive that they get a negative certificate on time to board the flight. On top of that, the international quarantine rules were being changed every day. I am sure a lot of coconuts were broken by the parents of the bride and bridegroom as they finally arrived (thanks to the transport bubble) and put a rest to the existential angst.

All of us had planned this trip for the last couple of months to attend my grandmother’s 97th birthday. The wedding of her youngest grandchild was an unexpected birthday gift for her. She was eagerly looking forward to this day 10 years back (as my wife recounted) after the sudden departure of my grandfather. Shall I say it was an elixir guaranteed to induce a ‘why’ in her life? While the wedding preparations were going on, It was time for grandmother’s birthday. After several years she had all her grandsons and granddaughter together. What I remember dearly was the way my grandmother opened her mouth for the cake. That was the icing on the cake.

Less crowd & less noise, and a lot of food, that was the highlight of this trip. Having come out of a spell of limited food intake in the last 2 weeks it was time to make the most of it. I soothed my stomach and serenaded my soul. I was enamoured by some people whom I met as well. I introduced a close relative of mine who had taken care of me when I was a child to my wife. It was very interesting as he narrated some of my mischievous habits to her.

I had a good time chatting with some of my friends and relatives during the various wedding-related events. One of my relatives had taken it upon himself to tell everyone that the current variant was “just a flu”. The moment I told him that I had that flu a few days back, there was stunned silence. An old uncle was taking some life lessons from me and I was very happy to share my lifelong mantra on relationships, “People come into your life for a reason, season and lifetime”. I was fascinated with one of my cousins who wanted to live a life without marriage. I saw a person who is in search of his ‘why.’ There were vibes and there were jibes.

I also had the opportunity to mix work and pleasure. I took calls on MS teams in a moving vehicle with a laptop in the seat, holding coffee in my left hand and making notes with the other hand. The best part was attending an important conference call under a jackfruit tree. I never imagined in my life that we can combine work with pleasure.

As the number of attendees was limited, the wedding was telecast live and there were a couple of people who identified me thanks to my bald head and a flashy red kurta which I wore with great difficulty on a sweaty day. I also made a note of some personalities, books, and places that people shared which caught my interest. All in all, I was very happy and enjoying myself in the presence of my folks. It was a pleasure to see the bridegroom chit-chatting with the bride in those key moments. I realised then how far they have come and from a faraway place.

The other day I was hearing Symphony 9 by Beethoven. I liked ‘Ode to joy’ which is a tune about peace. It represents the triumph of universal brotherhood against war and desperation. Schiller’s “Ode to Joy” is a fairly thorough examination of the emotion of joy, its origins, and its purposes. It is inextricably linked now with Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and its distinctive “Freude” melody, but it’s a fairly straightforward poem, and on its own, it endeavours to create a feeling of, and appreciation for, the emotion of joy in the reader. It’s also all-inclusive since Joy is literally a character in its own ode.

My experience from this whole sojourn of 11 days was a feeling of joy and how it all worked well for the family at the end, as this marriage had been in the waiting for the last couple of years. As Anne Hathaway said, “Weddings are important because they celebrate life and possibility.” In this case, the cliffhanger was getting on board the flight and so it will go down in our memories as a one kinda marriage with the subtitle “Aboard to Joy”. All in all a marriage during the pandemic time is something we will also remember for some time to come. Today I was reading an article about a modern couple who decided to get married in a metaverse with the Harry Potter theme, beating the pandemic restrictions. The next time, I can share this tip with my relatives who are waiting for a long time for their son or daughter to get married: get into the metaverse and chant the verses if you are not able to get on board that flight.

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