Why is happiness disappearing?

Happiness is disappearing like the sun setting everyday on the banks of Karnafuli
NH Sajjad

People change over time with reason or without reason. They forget their memories and cope with fresh happenings. They leave their families behind and make new relationships; they become machines from human beings.

When asked about these changes, they say, ‘We are looking for happiness.’

But the question is: do they really find happiness in such a way? I guess not. So, what are the reasons behind all these changes? Why are they not satisfied with their prevailing fortunes? Let’s try to dig deeper.

1. In search into the glorious past 

Leaping into a pond, walking on the railway track, playing football in the incessant rain, riding a bicycle to a nearby hill, and picking mangoes from the trees—were the indispensable part of my childhood. Besides, I would play cricket with my friends on open spaces of our locality or on our school grounds, braving the scorching heat.

But today, high-rise buildings have replaced those empty spaces. Once-the-village has turned into a ‘metropolitan’ like area with around 100 skyscrapers. And, teenagers now play different types of video games or scroll through the social media to spend their spare time within four walls, instead of hitting and throwing balls in the field.

There is a canal near my home that is connected to the Karnafuli river.

My friends and I used to fish there frequently with our bare hands or different kinds of nets, including push and throw nets, when the water level decreased during low tide. On top of that, I would roam here and there carrying my fishing rod over my shoulder.

Today, I have lost everything—friends, fishing, playground. I am looking for my past desperately; I am looking for my friends to play, to fight and to fish. But I can’t find them anywhere. They are thousands of miles away from me. They are making money in the Middle East to become rich and influential, and to construct buildings in the empty spaces—where children play.

So, today, whenever I go to my home, what I do is to go to the field and sit on the soft, green grass alone and reminisce about the glorious past I had.

But the question is: why is this taking place? Why is happiness disappearing?

2. In search of happiness 

I thought I could escape the hustle and bustle of city life by travelling to my grandfather’s home at Hatibandha in Lalmonirhat. I visited the place in March this year, but didn’t find what I was looking for—peace. I found the village life changing drastically. I didn’t find my relatives to talk to and hang out with.

Once, people of the area would love to stay with their family. While men would work at brick kilns or at fields or fish from surrounding wetlands (beels) during off-season to make a living, women would roll tobacco into bidis (local cigarettes) at their homes.

They would sing and play the flute in their yards. They used to play cards, chess and carrom with their neighbours. They would arrange cockfights and stick fights (lathi khela) on special occasions.

But, today, they are moving towards the capital city, leaving behind their families, forgetting their glorious past; they are demolishing the old houses built with corrugated iron sheets and constructing new ones with bricks, cement and rods occupying the land once-used for paddy cultivation.

But the question is: why is this taking place? Why is happiness disappearing?

3. Profit maximisation 

The scenarios I have mentioned above are common for all and the answer of why happiness is disappearing is—the pursuit of profit. We all are losing our glorious past only because of running after money. We want to be rich and influential. We don’t want to lead life in the way we did in the past.

So, we are investing all of our time, including leisure, to earn money; we are moving to the Middle East and the capital city, leaving our families, friends and memories behind.

Now, money is the ‘second god’ to us. Now, we believe—time is money and money is prolific. So, we don’t have time to reminisce about the past; we don’t have time to gossip, and crack jokes with near and dear ones. We rather utilise the time making profit, which proves that we are becoming ‘self-centric’, forgetting the collective interest.

However, at the end, the brutal reality is: we are alone, so alone in this post-modern society. Just before hanging ourselves from the ceiling to escape the loneliness, we cry, cry and cry, reiterating the proverb ‘old is gold’.

Can’t we utter these three words just before starting our voyage to become bourgeoisie from proletariat? We can. We definitely can. Remember, old is really gold…

NH Sajjad, sub-editor of Prothom Alo. He can be reached via [email protected]