Moments of Joy

by Anita Menon

The idea for this post has been in my head for a long time now. But to put it in words was a task.

This is what I do.

When I am deeply enjoying a moment I try to freeze the frame so that I can bring it back later when I want to consciously think about it and enjoy it once again. These are not life defining moments that I frame but moments that find so perfect in its ordinariness that I want it to stay with me forever. We all do this but then when I ask people about it they do not consciously freeze that moment to think about it later. It is an automatic process for them and these memories come back to them in flashes. randomly.

My memories have nothing that I can learn from or teach others. They are simply joyous in nature and so selfishly contained that it is practically impossible to share that joy with anyone.

Like for instance, while I was pregnant and staying in the U.K, I used to go out by myself to the Birmingham city center. Sit around in cafes with a book or go to a museum or an art gallery or simply take a walk on the cobbled streets. The perfect summer days with the occasional drizzle kept my pregnant mood upbeat. One such summer afternoon I was comfortable seated at a corner table in Costa Coffee engrossed in my book. There weren’t many people in the cafe and through the huge glass panes I could see people hurrying to work after their lunch break. It had just rained and now the sun was out again, rays glistening on the rain drops on the glass pane. I worried having had too much hot chocolate but the hot chocolate was so good that I mulled in the sensation and then I felt a kick. He had been kicking for a good few days now ( Ofcourse it was Anumita but I was so sure that I was going to have a boy) and that kick was more like a nudge of satisfaction, a vote of thanks for the lovely cuppa cocoa. You can’t but not smile. I am sure all pregger women smile when they feel the kicks inside. It’s for some strange alien reason, a pleasant sensation. So I smiled. No sooner did I look up( getting kicked my your unborn child is like a well-kept secret, but you still want to know if anybody else noticed anything, obviously nobody does! But you still look around to check and so I did) I see a gentleman, a grand old gentleman with a cane and a pipe smiling back at me. Did I smile too much? Was it that evident? But that moment was like a frame frozen in time. He smiled because I smiled or he smiled just like that, or maybe he knew what had transpired in my belly. But that moment was like no other. That smile caused me to smile further and then we got down to do what we were doing before the episode had begun. As if nothing had happened. Now when I look back, extract that image from my mind, delve in it, I still exactly know how it felt to be kicked, to smile and to be smiled back at. It was precious. Like a still from a movie, the perfect moment. That moment, even today brings me so much joy that it uncreases my brow. On his way out, the grand old gentleman with his grand old beard, a cane and a pipe, bowed at me and bade me farewell. I still remember the shining eyes and the knowing look telling me, yes I know what happened and yes you might have felt mighty nice.

Many such frames exist in my head. Some have me and some don’t.

Like outside of my home at Avoca court, in Birmingham, straight across the apartment, I would see a couple, kissing every evening. Through out the day, the door to their balcony remained closed. But when they came back from work ( I assumed they must be working since I saw them only on weekends or in the evenings on weekdays) I used to see them lovingly cooking their meal together, sometimes lying on the sofa -bed and watching television. I know it is inappropriate to peer into other people’s home but it was right there in front of me and I could not, but watch this genuine display of love every single day. If one came early, I imagined him waiting for the other eagerly. When his partner came in, they would embrace and that frame remains in my mind because they were a gay couple. It felt so natural and more so than a man and a woman embracing in love.  That picture remains embedded in my mind and that frame never ceases to bring a smile on my face.

Such frames stay and I wish they collect over a period of time so that I can write about them, about the lighter moments,about the love shared, about the understanding shared, about their ordinariness and mudanity.