11 May, 2021

Couldn’t Prevent Jack From Being Happy

We had an eye out for happiness, and found it in poverty softened by hope, in struggle, in selflessness, and in self-absorption

Jitender Gupta
Couldn’t Prevent Jack From Being Happy

Once upon a time, there was a king who had everything he could ask for in life—wealth and health, a loving family and many caring friends. But he could never feel happy. A saint offered him an easy solution. Happiness would come his way if he wore the shirt of the happiest person in his kingdom. So his men searched far and wide and finally found a truly blissful soul in a grimy shanty on the fringes of the town. But when they asked him for his shirt, he couldn’t offer one. He had none.

As Outlook’s reporters tried to find some answers to that unfathomable question—what does happiness mean to urban Indians, rich and poor, young and old, rooted and restless—this childhood story served as a totem pole. We learnt that money can’t buy you love, and happiness. This pointed us to a corollary—that despite all our wants and needs, we could still glow from within.

Roma Patra, a 35-year-old maid, has that radiance. And she certainly doesn’t possess the...

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