I was watching the final season of Desperate Housewives over the weekend. The show, if you keep your prejudices about the name aside, is a very brilliantly written show. I respect any creation that has a good story as its spine. It makes me respect the writer and everyone who agreed to work on it. Desperate Housewives has a spine. Moreover, the story has a lot of layers to it. The layers are like the small bylanes that have their own essence and they travel miles to meet the highway; a common road, and then the highway takes up every short story and forms a big one taking them with it into the horizon where all stories eventually end. One of those “bylanes” has a story I find I can relate to given the mess my head is in.

One of the housewives, Susan, has joined an art class to revisit her passion. While she does tell her teacher, that she wants to join the class to enhance her skills, she is secretly hoping that her passion could help her take her mind off a guilt that has been nagging her for long now. Her art teacher, Andre, comes across a hard-to-please person. Andre openly criticises her work. He never says a kind word to her, and treats her disparagingly. Susan, finds herself at sixes and sevens with him all the time. She can never create something Andre approves of and she fails every single day in trying to meet the expectations he demands. This goes on for really long. Susan is distraught. She had been hoping her class would help her ease how she feels, but her class makes it all the more difficult for her to connect with herself because Andre never lets her rest in peace. Moreover, her “guilt” keeps playing in her mind. Peace and Susan aren’t really the best of friends at this point in time. Susan storms to Andre’s house to ask him why he hates her work so much. Andre tells her, “I hate your work because you’re lying. Every time you seek someone’s appreciation for what you do, you are lying. Every time you come to me bringing me what I want to see, you’re lying. I hate your work because you’re not honest. Not even to yourself. You’re just lying.” Susan listens to him, turns around and goes home. What I saw in her eyes, after she what he had to say, was a bringing down of the fences she put around herself. She realised that every time she painted she had been lying. She paints. And this time, uninhibitedly. It frees her from the clutches of herself. The worst kind of bondage-that of holding yourself back. (It makes her feels miserable in the next episode, but that’s a different matter altogether.)

The point I’m trying to make, has been made.

***

I’ve had some really satisfying relationships in my life. Ones that made me feel blessed more than indebted, loved more than favoured, special more than endowed. I’ve had some really special ones. Ones that have taught me some of the most worth-learning lessons in my life. One of them, long ago, taught me unconditional support. One of them, recently, taught me what it means to protect someone, to want them to be happy. It was so subtle, I almost cried. It’s overwhelming to see what a friend has been doing to protect you from harm, hurt, sadness, even. It’s like the shell that protects the oyster when the sea gets wild. You don’t know how bad it is around you. You just know you’re safe. It is when you come face to face with the storm that you’ve been sheltered from do you realise how the heaven above sent you a friend to keep you safe. It can make you cry. Trust me. This is why we need prayers. To thank someone for such friends; because their love is so much that thanking them would be sacrilege.

***

Happiness is a self-respecting guest. If you question it, chances are really high that it’s going to walk right out of your house. You’ve just got to take it on trust and then share it with those you love so that it multiplies. If you don’t have anyone to share it with, it has absolutely no meaning. They say, “Shared joy is double joy. Shared sorrow is half sorrow.” They couldn’t be more right.

However, some joys can be fully shared only with those people who know what that happiness means to you. They’ll be as happy for you as you are; without any malice and genuine appreciation. That kind of sharing is what I’m talking about here. It’s sad when you do share it with someone who you thought would be happy for you, but all you get to see is that they have their own reservations. Happiness doesn’t seem that happy anymore because sharing doesn’t seem like sharing anymore.

Sad times.

***

It’s been a while since I was a poem
It’s been a while since I was prose
It’s been a while since I painted your heart
It’s been a while since I did suppose

It’s been a while since I rained on paper
It’s been a while since I gained some weight
It’s been a while since I stained a tissue
It’s been a while since I feigned love to a mate

It’s been a while since I was your pain
It’s been a while since I was your vent
It’s been a while since I was your passion
It’s been a while since I was your friend

It’s been a while since I was your experiment
It’s been a while since I was your soul
It’s been a while since I was your painting
It’s been a while since you’ve been whole.

-Sameen