Your alarm goes off and you let it snooze for the second time before stretching your hand lazily to put it off. You sit upright on your bed for a moment and think, ‘that was a long, restless night’. But you’ve had restless nights since when? You try to count. You lose the count halfway. It’s been years now. Late night sleep and early morning work. ‘It’s a sacrifice I have to make for our own better livelihood’ you convince yourself. But you’ve been making sacrifices for the past ten years. You frown, dismiss the thoughts and pick up your phone. Four missed calls and three text messages. You go through them. Work work work. You put it back and drag your feet to the washroom. Nowadays, you can’t even enjoy a warm shower like you used to. Time doesn’t give you that luxury, or rather, you don’t give yourself the time to enjoy anything anymore. ‘You’ve been busy.’
Hurriedly, you choose what to wear. It doesn’t really matter much anymore so long as it is clean and neat. You call out your husband’s name to wake up as you head to the kitchen to make some quick breakfast. You move to the fridge and take some eggs to make omelets for yourself and your small family. You quickly glimpse at the sticker on the fridge. It says, ‘The pursuit of happiness’ with some other tiny written words below it. You haven’t seen this one before. You smile. It must be your teenage son who kept it up. You want to read it but then you remember you have an important meeting with an important client. You make a mental note to come check it out again. You need to hurry.
Very fast, you prepare the breakfast. ‘Did I put salt in the eggs?’ You can’t remember. You put the breakfast on the table with the salt sprinkler next to it. You grab two slices of bread, insert an omelet inside it and sprinkle some little bit of salt to make a sandwich. You eat as you head to your son’s room to wake him up for school before going back to wake his father once again. You kiss him goodbye and tell him the breakfast is on the table. You take two long sips of your coffee, grab your car keys and off you go.
Heading towards your car, you meet mama Zainab who owns a small shop opposite your villa. She is humming a taarab song you are familiar with as she sweeps outside her shop.
“Good day huh?” You smile.
“Always,” she laughs.
You get into your car wondering how mama Zainab can seem so fresh and energetic that early morning while she had to walk for twenty minutes to get to her shop. Maybe you are going to ask her of her secret some day.
Inside your car you notice your book on self-love on the seat beside you. Your best friend bought it for you because she thought ‘you need to take care of yourself more’. You think she is just being ridiculous but you still promised to read it. You’ve been trying to read it for the past two months now. It is an interesting one but where is the time to read? You sigh and take off. You meet your important client, then another, then a board meeting. You make a mental note to call your husband at lunch break. You don’t get the chance to. Back to work. Work work work. ‘It is a sacrifice I have to make so my family can have a comfortable and the best kind of life’ you say it to yourself once again. It is all in the pursuit of happiness.
You get home extremely exhausted. Your son is already asleep; you don’t get to ask him about his day or even about the new sticker on the fridge. You have a rather silent dinner with your husband apart from the random small talk. Both of you are tired, you head to bed. Each one rolls up to their side of the bed. You close your eyes. You open them. You close them. Repeat. You check your phone now. It’s been one hour since you went to bed. Sleep just doesn’t seem to be your friend nowadays. Your mind still remains awake. Still contemplating. Calculating. Arranging. Planning. Work still visits you even on your bed.
You sigh loudly and walk up to the fridge to grab a glass of water. You notice the sticker again. You bring your face closer and squint your eyes to read the tiny words. It says, ‘Happiness is not having what you want. Its wanting what you already have.’ It strikes you hard. You haven’t been living; you’ve just been sacrificing. Sacrificing at the cost of what really mattered to you; creating moments with your family, your health and your peace of mind. You’ve always been on the run. Always seeking something beyond what you already have. You pull a chair from the dining table and sit. You suddenly realize how you’re ageing so fast. You let it sink in. Darling, you haven’t been living. You’ve just been seeking.