Like most other evening parties she hosted, today’s gathering had less than a dozen people. The regulars were her close friends and the rest were warm and friendly new acquaintances or old friends visiting town. She always loved the spirit of such evenings, but the mood today was particularly introspective. It was her turn now and she sat back thinking of the years gone by.
“In those years when I was the talk of the town – rich, glamorous and successful, I thought I had a perfect life”, she said. “I liked different kinds of parties then, where everyone liked to talk about their new cars, furniture or new fashion trends. I was the most envied women in town for my exploits with the handsome men was the town’s favorite gossip”, she chuckled.
“I never thought of you as a warm person then”, said Martha, who had known her for most of that period. “But neither do I recall any dramatic event that changed your perspective”.
She nodded in agreement, continuing to gaze steadily at the window sill. “Someone asked me a simple question that made me think about my ways.” She began to narrate the conversation that ensued.
HIM: Thanks to you, we’ve successfully raised enough money for the charity.
ME: What do you think of my speech?
HIM: It was well received, but it made me wonder what your motivation was.
ME : How does it matter? I know the purpose is genuine and I feel happy helping other people.
HIM: Interesting. But your speech today was about what you did to raise funds for a ‘great’ cause.
ME: Was it?
HIM: It felt more like the pleasure of self gratification than motivation to a cause.
ME: What’s wrong with that?
HIM: Oh nothing at all. It is just about how you define your life’s purpose.
HER: I don’t understand you.
HIM: Do you equate happiness to pleasurable existence?
She fell silent, thinking once again of the significance of those words.
Sensing the somber mood, Martha picked up a spoon and tapped it against her glass saying, “does that stop us from enjoying a pleasurable evening?”
The banter returned instantly.
She watched the cheerful people around, but her thoughts went back to the strange calmness in that man’s voice several years ago. She didn’t know the real answer to that yet, but she’d learnt of several other things to be happy about.
p.s- written for prompt3 Inkwell drops.
Inspired by the book, “The impossible question”, J Krishnamurthy