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Quest for happiness

india Updated: Aug 09, 2010 01:26 IST
Sami Rafiq

A farewell to a longtime friend who was leaving us for good, brought the question of happiness to my mind.

When we entered her once compact and tidy flat that had spoken of great taste and elegance, we were saddened to see most of the things gone and here and there were things to be packed or disposed off.

I looked at the books and collections of clothes and music and read her pride and attachment to those things.

Now she was forced by circumstances to give them all away. I thought about the things in my house, my own treasured books and knickknacks and I could not bear the thought of giving them away. It could be a possibility for me too that I might have to give them up one day. The happiness in possessing things was clearly meaningless. This reminds me of an enlightening story from a collection of stories by Idris Shah.

Three brothers had set out to win the hand of a certain princess. The princess in question had the habit of eating dates all the time; and it was only the man who could cure her of her ailment that would be her suitor.

Each of the brothers set out with piles of dates with the idea that they would feed her so many dates that she would never look at them again.

Even though each brother had large amounts of dates, two of them won’t give even a single date to a hungry fakir who passed their way.

Subsequently, they were unable to win the hand of the princess, as they fell short of dates. However, the third prince decided to give not one but all his dates to the hungry fakir.

A happy fakir gave him a magic pocket from which dates would never stop coming out, and eventually he cured the princess and won her hand.

The moral of the story: True happiness lies in giving away, rather than in keeping for ourselves. One can smile only when others smile.