I usually avoid religious references in my writing and on my blog. But this one was an idea that really appealed to me. I struggled with H on the A to Z Challenge, before deciding to settle on the most peaceful, simplest (but hardest) word of all – Happiness. And I could only think of one character to portray its essence. This is his story through my eyes. Tell me what you think. I give you, H is for Happiness.
H is for Happiness
The Laughing Buddha shifted uncomfortably on the rexine sofa. His stomach was not made for chair-sitting. He had lifted one foot up to tuck it under the stomach, earlier. But in the time it took to lift it and fold it under his under-underbelly, the receptionist had glared at him. His stomach had bloated slightly and it made his smile shrink. Disapproval did not digest well. Daunted, he had put the foot back down. Now, ten minutes later, his stomach had returned to its good-natured flab. But the sight of the receptionist was enough to keep his legs in check. It was all very tragic. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on who was looking), discomfort digested quite easily and didn’t impact the shape of The Laughing Buddha’s stomach.
At long last, the receptionist sniffed in his direction and dropped a curt “Go”. He stood up laboriously and shuffled towards the door, casting a sunny smile in her direction. She didn’t even pause in her perusal of the spreadsheets. But he didn’t mind. His charms only worked on Earthly creatures, not management. Still, it was his nature to shed sweetness and light, so he did. Never mind if a little bounced off.
All the bosses were in today, he noted, as he shuffled into the conference room. To his dismay, they were seated around an oval table, with a hole in the center. There were no mattresses or even a beanbag in sight. All that furniture took up so much room. Maybe, he thought, as the meeting wore on, the disapproval would shrink him enough so he’d be able to sit on the floor. But, he knew the minute that happened, he’d sink into bliss and spread out again.
said a boxy voice, breaking his reverie. It shattered into a few thousand fragments. But the suited atmosphere of the room made them all evaporate before they had a chance to fly in any direction.
“We’re here to discuss your performance and the plan for the year ahead.”
The Laughing Buddha barely heard them; he was too busy trying to wedge into the chair. Suddenly his stomach filled like a balloon. Grimacing, he swiveled the chair around and settled his little hands around the balloon stomach. The Voice went back to speaking but the waves of disapproval rebounded and mated with the sneering curiosity from around the room, making the room hot and heavy. The stomach would stay bloated for the better part of an hour now.
“Let’s get to the nitty-gritty. We can’t have your random order scatters anymore. It’s not cost effective.”
The Laughing Buddha’s eyes opened and he struggled to see through the gloomy darkness. It was very hard, when his sunny smile didn’t light up the way for his gaze. Words like nitty-gritty dented his mouth-bow a bit. No happy arrows could issue from it, while it was in this state.
“How exactly has this thing been working all these years?”
a metallic voice scissored across the room.
“He follows his stomach. The sunshine radiance sustains for a few hours. It is constantly replenished by joy sensations that he picks up.”
“Which is what, he keeps smiling as long as he’s having fun? And where does happiness come into it?”
“It works like a virus. He smiles, they do too. The joy endorphins go shooting and release into the air. He’s able to gather and store them. Just like a solar panel.”
“Solar panel, virus…does this guy know what he’s doing? No wonder it’s in such chaos.”
“There’s no need to get aggressive. It’s just simple chemistry. The system has worked well so far. He’s..”
“Then why are we sitting here?”
The Laughing Buddha had closed his eyes by now. It was too painful to keep them open in the zinging volleys going across the room. He felt the ache shift back in his direction.
“You’ve to stop shooting those joy arrow thingies as and when you feel like it, now. We have to have some order now.”
“Happy arrows, not joy arrows. He feeds on joy sensations. The happy arrows are for barren situations.”
“Which he has been issuing by the truckload, on will.”
The stomach deflated a touch. The Laughing Buddha’s mouth-bow upturned immediately and he let loose a happy arrow. Then he looked around apologetically. But they hadn’t even noticed. The Voices were still zinging disapproval darts at each other. He realized they couldn’t see the happy arrows anymore than they could feel them. The thought gave him sustenance. It floated out through his nostrils and settled over his form like a glass shield. And he settled back in his seat, his stomach spilling over the arms.
When he shuffled out of the room three-quarters of an hour later, he was still smiling. But he had forgotten his wisdom shield back in the room. It wouldn’t matter.
The receptionist crinkled her nose as he passed her, smiling in the opposite direction this time. He hadn’t even noticed the discarded wisdom shields lying scattered around the office, from all his earlier visits. Ignorance was his inexhaustible power source. She had seen this rigmarole play out every year for the past ten centuries. Then she drifted up and floated to the conference room. Anytime now, they’d be calling for coffee.
The Laughing Buddha was out in the world now, zinging his happy arrows around. This time, she decided, she’d just mark him off as ‘Cost Optimised’. She didn’t want his fidgety stomach on her precious sofa again next year.
*Image via Lavoview on FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Tagged: #AtoZChallenge, Boardroom decisions, Corporate meetings, Fantasy fiction, Fiction, Happiness, Laughing Buddha, Mythological characters in fiction, Performance appraisal, Receptionist, Short stories, Stifling creativity, Tiny Tales, Writathon, Writing challenge