happy 3

The smile from a random stranger in return to a genuine smile from you. Conversations with strangers in a language you don’t even understand but the kindness and warmth of that conversation beams a universal  message of good will.

Finding the one when you weren’t even looking. In the process finding the questions to your existential crisis- Why do I exist? What’s the purpose of life?  For you realize that you exist to fill your days with happy memories of being together and loving each other.

The child holding her father’s hand as she skips down the steps.

The wide smile on your dad’s face when you achieve something. That hint of pride and unselfish joy in that face that truly smiles for you.

Your mom’s tears of joy when a torrid period of your life ends and a new happy chapter begins.

The genuine smiles you share and the tears of joy you and your family shed when a little bundle of joy pops into your world.

Playing with an animal. Your dog or the random dog tied near a coffee shop.

Witnessing a random act of kindness. The stranger that distributes food packet to the beggars and walked on without expecting or accepting any gratitude. The random stranger who feeds the diseased dog everybody else shuns. The random stranger playing and feeding a random stray on the road as you walk home.

The street musician who fills the every day world with his own brand of unique music.

Reading a book that thrills you, fills your mind with wonder or broadens your understanding of the journey of life. Curling up with a good book and a hot piping cup of coffee on a rainy day.


Getting drenched in the rain when you want to.

Having that wonderfully brewed cup of coffee.

Buying food for a hungry man or woman. Seeing genuine gratitude and a smile that lights up everything around.

happy 2

The secret charity which you cherish above your achievements in terms of personal satisfaction. It may be for self gratification but knowing that you are doing even a little of what you really meant to do as an idealistic child is sheer bliss.

Seeing her face light up with joy when you do something for her. Gifting her something she likes.

End of a horrible limbo in the best possible way. You started with nothing and you end with someone special in your life and a new beginning on the horizon personally and professionally.

The time when you are down and your dad says exactly the right thing. And that failure doesn’t seem the end of everything as it did before the conversation ; for you have unselfish love at your back.

The time when you have given up on happiness and it randomly and unannounced pops in for a visit.

The time when your mom gets super excited about your newly discovered love.

The time when you gain acceptance into a group where you really wanted to belong.

The time when a cherished dream becomes a reality.

The time when the wanderer discovers the freedom of the open road.

The time when you are totally lost but there’s nothing else you would rather be doing or nowhere else you rather be.

The fascinating philosophical discussion with random strangers from  exotic countries or from a corner of your magnificent country.

The time when you face your fears and undertake something. Rafting when you are more than a little scared of deep or fast moving water and then laughing about the thrill and the fear transforming  into a little medley of joy.

The first and every time you bungee jump.

A chat with friends about the good old times.

An acknowledgement of your contribution to something.

A fun conversation, dinner or trip with friends or family.

Making an effort to be better and healthier for that special someone who truly cares.

Joy 1

Holding your nephew for the first time.

That time when your puppy licks you awake.

Landing that dream job or the closest approximation of one.

The time when you sway to music lost to everything but the beat.

She saying yes to your most vulnerable proposal.

The time when you are drunk on joy and exhilaration at doing or achieving something you thought would never come to be.

This is but an incomplete list of the Little and Big joys that make up the tapestry of this infinitely complex yet brilliantly simple journey called life.

“They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.” ― Tom Bodett


By- Aseem Mahajan



He had often warned himself not to build castles and decks of dreams for they had a way of crashing down unceremoniously whenever he dared build them. He had stopped making that mistake after numerous crash and burns. But then he dared again. Hoping this time it would be different. He had suffered through enough and this was his redemption cometh. Oh how wrong he was !! The cruel Gods or randomness had other plans for him. He was allowed to dream and hope of a future brighter than he had ever dared to do before. And then it was all snatched away in the blink of an eye. He should have remembered that in the desert of life the likes of him never found an oasis . They always spotted the mirage.

He didn’t know whether to smile or cry. He was too used to it to be able to cry about it. He was too crushed to not.

He ambled home in a daze thinking about what new tragedy had befallen him. He had imagined togetherness and companionship. He was promised an empty home and hearth for the foreseeable future. He had his head up in the clouds but he was reminded that there was no ground beneath his feet. Hope is a strange poison. It builds up euphoria and then turns that into a pipe dream that taunts you from the beyond. He understood what John Greenleaf Whittier meant – ““Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been.”


Well as always whenever life knocked him down he swallowed his sadness and smiled. Tried hard to hope against hope for redemption. That same vicious cycle of forever hoping only to be denied time and again; with happiness tantalizingly close yet never attainable. He gathered the flimsy blanket of his courage, tattered by the storms and walked into the wind once again. Grimly determined to seek the Ambrosia of happiness once again. Despite the odds. Despite fates or randomness thwarting his dreams. He would live to fight another day. He wouldn’t give them the satisfaction of defeating him to the point of no return. He was a fighter in his own way. Not very courageous or skilled but a seeker of joy amidst the shadows anyways. A scrappy fighter searching for his own slice of heaven amidst the gloom.


He smiled, more broadly this time and walked straight into the eye of the storm.


By- Aseem Mahajan


forest night

On a clear winter night he ventured further into the unknown. Despite his love of adventure and a spirit tempered in the forges of extremes of failure and success he was still shaking inside with a curious mix of joy and trepidation. He was prepared for the unpredictable dangers that lurked on this path he had chosen. At least he reassured himself he was; as his heartbeat refused to heed his logic and as far as he could tell trumpeted his fear to all who could hear.
There were countless before him who had embarked on this adventure and many had found joy and glory. But there were legends and stories of those who had fallen or gone insane due to the perils of the unknowable. Those who lived out their lives in the strange lands dead inside and automatons trying to hide their reality but the fact that they were the walking dead was as clear as if they were but naked corpses for the perceptive mind. There were perils and horrors that would make the bravest of men queasy and there were temptations that would lure an ascetic into breaking his vows.

The only certainty was the uncertainty and unpredictability of what course the road would take. He was trying to look brave for those who were seeing him off and could not shake the feeling that he was akin to a well fed goat being delivered into the maws of a lion with happy faces signalling total apathy on the part of the spectators. Ah well, he had consented , nay, chosen this path to walk down . All the blame would squarely lie on him if it went awry and he would also get to gloat about the glory for any and all success to himself if not to the world at large.

His reverie was broken by the priest as he asked him to do the next part of the ritual. Marriage was a grand adventure and to cohabit with the strange yet wonderful creatures that women were, particularly she was, he was willing to challenge the odds. He smiled a smile meant to convey confidence and joy as he swallowed another bout of fear. This was a joyous day. Only his friends lamented the fall of another brethren. But they were too drunk on the celebrations to give a fig.

Funny Indian Couple


By- Aseem Mahajan



He was adrift in a sea of indecision. Life was a sinkhole and he was sinking further into the morass of a jaded existence. Lonely despite friends and sad despite the smiles. Directionless and vague ambitions and plans for the future. Existential crisis, quarter life crisis or whatever it may be termed he had diagnosed himself as depressed and the best times of his life seemed behind him. Corporate life seemed like purgatory; in fact his continued existence itself was hinged on his non-belief in God, heaven or hell and an afterlife. He was discontent and angry with himself and the randomness of the universe at large. He regarded the universe as an indifferent being which didn’t care about its’ inhabitants at all and everything was just a random sequence of events to be endured till his last breath was snuffed out by the tides of time and entropy.

Then he met Her.

She came like the fresh life of spring into his life. She was beset with her own stories of successes and failures, her logical and illogical insecurities, joys and sorrows, trials and tribulations, ambitions and whims. She was as fragrant as Petrichor as the rain of requited love fell onto the parched soil of his soul. She was new life and death of an old solitary one. She was heaven and the release from purgatory. She was smiles, she was tears. She was the balm that healed him on the worst of days and the song that soothed his frazzled senses. She was a dream, a vocal answer to his silent scream. She was purpose, she was hope. She was the woman. The one, love of his life, his breath, his desire. His lover, parent, child and sibling.

She was the woman. The one. She was everything.


He hadn’t imagined such happiness to be possible. Especially not for himself. He remembered his journey and the milestones. In his quest for something he had found nothing, and he was disappointed as he had wanted something. Then he had decided he would be a drifter and seek nothing. In his quest for nothing he had found something, something really special and he was confused initially but then he accepted that the universe may be random and brutal but sometimes , just sometimes, the dice were loaded in his favour.

The discovery of her was so precious to him. He was almost afraid that it was all a cosmic joke. But then she stayed.

He was never alone again and he finally knew what the opposite of loneliness was , what happiness was. What it was to be so invested in somebody that every waking moment without them was an eternity in hell. That being with them was a little slice of heaven and perhaps the only heaven that actually existed. He would have laughed at any suggestion of planning a future with someone before her. Now it came naturally. Life had taken a strange turn but for the good this time. He had her by his side despite the fact that cold rational thinking would have required her to leave.

Her laughter was the only music he would ever need and the most beautiful background track he wanted to fill the rest of his days with.He smiled. Genuinely, as he was prone to doing nowadays. For he was crazy and so was she. He remembered a line from one of his favorite movies. Rick from “Casablanca”- “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

And what a great friendship they were forging. He was alive once again and not just a blip on the linear timelines of some other lives. Being happy , being a human, being sane, it all boiled down to being with “Her”.


By- Aseem Mahajan



A Dark Diwali

Posted: 23rd October 2014 by aseem.ace in Thoughts
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diwaliAh Diwali Morning!! The morning where the night holds so much promise that you want time to move fast till darkness dawns on the planet. For the darkness that night is sure to be punctured by rapturous flailing of firecrackers against the immense sky. He had taken the day off. A rarity for him as he was a daily wage laborer and the luxury of a holiday was best reserved for special occasions like this one. Illness or the time between projects was the only other leaves he knew. And leaves were thus unwelcome and unholy for him generally.

The year had been good and he had been mostly employed. His family had shopped the day before and besides bright new clothes for his son, wife and himself he had splurged and bought firecrackers worth 600 Rupees. This was a first for him and he was proud that he could afford this little luxury for the sake of his son. Their beaming faces and those of his neighbors in the impoverished neighborhood, that looked unusually prosperous on this auspicious day, were a sight to behold on this august day. People walked around in their bright and new Diwali clothes. There was a palpable sense of excitement in the air and the children were more boisterous than usual.

There was a wave of joy discernible among most people apart from those who had lost someone and wouldn’t be partaking in the festivities. The joy of the little ones was contagious and by evening they were all in high spirits and bonhomie amongst the neighborhood was at its usual festive high.

The Poojas commenced and then the celebration began. The road was littered with the carcasses of joy givers aka firecrackers of all sorts. The children squealed –half in joy and half in fright as fire reigned over the night. In a show of sound and beauty the night sky was brighter than most mornings. This was a much appreciated spectacle of a facile war against darkness as adulatory faces turned upwards. This was an annual spectacle that was held in more regard than the most beautiful dawn.

He was laughing at his child’s joy and his wife was also looking over adoringly at the 5 year old when it happened. The tyres squelched on the sandy earth as the man made beast mowed down their joy and light leaving them as horror struck witnesses whose joy de vivre was snuffed out within microseconds. The drunk teenage driver of the BMW 3 series panicked and dragged the kid for 20-30 meters before braking to let him fall off. Then he accelerated away from the scene of devastation as the mother dropped to her knees. The father ran and picked up his boy. But the spark of life had left his delicate shell.


His tears and anguished cries tore the shroud of joy from those around and grief dawned on all those who realized what had transpired. This little tableau of horror had to happen on the happiest of nights. This was supposed to be his happiest Diwali yet. Why him? Why today? He asked an unfeeling or non-present God. Randomness had claimed another victim on this most happy of nights. The festivities raged on in the city but this family and their neighborhood was quietened by the cruel hand of fate.

The quiet that clutches the heart tightly and squeezes the joy out of existence. The celebrations they could still hear seemed like a cruel mockery of their fate. But as it was, is and shall be life goes on and every tragedy is brushed under the carpet of tomorrow. For the search for new joy begins anew each day and sooner or later they would have to search again. All the time struggling to forget this most grievous of pains. Such is life.

By-Aseem Mahajan



As he sat alone drinking coffee and holding his book he got distracted and looked out the glass partitioning him off from the dust and grime of everyday life. He observed the cacophony of life from within his circumscribed presence and it all appeared reassuringly chaotic. Uncaring about the spectator but spectacular nevertheless- the utter randomness of everyday existence.

In the company of solitude his mind wandered seeking the story of all that he beheld. The story of that limping guy across the street.  Scavenging and begging for food at times and lost in some thought or the other as he went from one stranger to another.

The vendors hawking their wares silently or beseechingly depending on how well they were doing.

The bikes, scooters, the luxury cars and normal cars that rolled by bearing human beings to some destination or the other: A place, a person, a point in time.

The story of that preening youngster walking by perhaps proud of something he had achieved or just about being young.  His limited exposure to the vicissitudes of life enabling him to be alive in the moment as well as consider some triviality as the fulcrum of his existence. The delusions of the young and the unaffected.

The story of that guy making a filter coffee. Did he enjoy his craft and take pride in the quality of his product. Or was it just a menial chore to him to feed himself and his family and for his child’s education.

The story of the immigrant thousands of miles away from home serving pani puris so that his family could have a good life. Solitude, fidelity/infidelity or the sense of being a martyr for the sake of his family perhaps would dominate his thoughts.


The solitude melted away as he seeped through the looking glass into the countless loves and lives he was observing. He wandered like a spirit piggybacking on other mortal shells and the countless lives lived in the incalculable bubbles that each individual existence is. Experiencing sounds, sights and smells that one’s limited existence doesn’t let one experience.  Assimilating the random events that brought each person to that particular corner of the universe at that particular instant. He smiled, cried and rejoiced in the small joys that make each day worth living. The fleeting connect was like a drug that for a few seconds opened up his mind ,linking it to the invisible thread that ties each life to the core of existence.

To the strangers outside he must appear to be the one in a cocoon. A fly trapped in amber as it were. Gazing out inexorably without joining the flow of life.

He felt a strange wetness on his face. They were perhaps tears. Something he had known once a long time ago. His reverie was broken as an ambulance blazed by. Life and death and the inevitable pull of entropy. Ah such is life he thought. He wandered out in a daze and started walking to whatever destination he sought that day, becoming a spectacle for perhaps another bored spectator such as himself.

By- Aseem Mahajan



He smiled reading the old messages as his old bones creaked with every movement. He stoked the fireplace to ignite the embers into a greater frenzy, for the warmth that went through him reading these old messages wasn’t enough anymore for keeping the chill from affecting him. Plus losing her had made him a morose man. He lived on but the days were tides of nostalgia about the life they had shared. That first meeting, those letters and poems written in the throes of passion, the day he held her hand for the first time. Tremulous beginnings and amorous adventures. Twinkling eyes lost in reveling in each other. The stars and the universe but a backdrop and other people bit actors in the play of their life.

He could still remember her smiles as they aged together. How it evolved yet retained its honesty and warmth. The way she was bold even in the first meetings and shy even after eons of being together. The inherent contradictions, the little fights and differences of opinion all pushed him inexorably closer to her despite logic urging the stream of emotions to move in an opposite direction.

Their affection cemented by the troughs they faced together. Their joys multiplied by the blissful moments they shared. Their fights ending in tears of joy. They disrupted the stream of logic and defied the boundaries their situation tried to impose and in each other discovered the true strength of the human soul.

The day she died he had died inside but she had still insisted that he carry on the best he could and to that cruel promise too he had acquiesced. He had lived on as a shell of a man for decades now. Driven to despair by the parting and holding on to his rationality with videos, letters and memories of her.


What use was existence when the joy was gone he wondered. He had been a cynic and grappled with existential dilemmas once to the point of becoming seriously depressed. And then she had waltzed into his life. With her own story of travails and triumphs fluttering behind her like prayer flags on the mountains he so loved. She had displaced his priorities. Made him work on what foibles he had through gentle nudges. They had set each other free through the bond that they had forged. One link and one joy at a time, a bond that set their spirits on fire burning away whatever ghosts haunted them.

How accurately he recalled that first meeting. The day they said the three sacred words and really meant them. That first kiss. The words which over time seemed not enough to express how strongly they felt about each other. Their love bloomed like a timid and fragile rose on a desert landscape and yet hardy enough to survive the harsh winds and obstacles that life put in their path.

They built each other up when the world seemed intent on tearing them down. They could just spend hours in comfortable silence, 2 hearts beating as one and at peace for just having the other near. Dreams fulfilled gave them joy and dreams unfulfilled drove them on. Relentless yet calm amidst the storm of their ambitions because they kept each other grounded while urging each other on.


Ah well, the past was getting hazier and he just stared into the fire. What a cruel fate it was to have given him more than a glimpse of heaven and then keeping him chained in a declining physical shell while she had moved on to nothingness or whatever afterlife actually holds.

He gathered up all his strength and wiped away that cheeky tear which often rustled out unnoticed and unsolicited. The living had to get on with their routines however unwilling they may be. For a promise to her he would do anything. Even if it meant living when all he wanted to do was curl up into a ball and die.

He was terribly lonely. The mind can be a terribly lonely place at times. He smiled, he talked and he seemed normal and happy on the outside as he met his kids and friends, but there was a terrible sadness inside him. Gnawing him up and spitting him out each day to forcibly pretend that he was alive again.

He read the quote she had stuck on the refrigerator on the last days they had been together.

“The world is not respectable; it is mortal, tormented, confused, deluded forever; but it is shot through with beauty, with love, with glints of courage and laughter; and in these, the spirit blooms timidly, and struggles to the light amid the thorns.”
― George Santayana

He lived on, or at least pretended to be alive for Her sake.


By – Aseem Mahajan