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Learning to cherish the present

“Mughal-e-Azam is about to air at 8 pm. Turn on the television,” my sister texted me one Sunday evening. Dad was in bed curling under the blanket for more warmth, while Mum was doing some accounts. The atmosphere was quiet and morose. But soon as the 1960 Hindi movie started, Dad adjusted himself back, as Mum’s attention wavered from her work. Mughal-e-Azam is an iconic romantic film, starring two legendary Indian actors, based on the period of Mughal Emperor Akbar’s regime.

As the movie progressed, so did Dad’s attention to it. He began enunciating the dialogues, singing the songs, give us trivia about the film, and marvel over the movie and its grandeur which continues till date. The dinner was served in his room and eaten without much fuss. Medicines were taken. The cold was accepted and heaters were brought closer to the bed. Every television break was tolerated and the tv was not muted out during the commercials.

How could a 197 minutes movie turn around the atmosphere of our home was unimaginable to me. It not just made us share some comforting moments but also ignore the pressing demands of the evening. Maybe, it reminded Dad of better times when he had watched the film in his younger days. Or gone to watch the film alone in Vadodara while on a business tour, when it was re-released in colour. Nonetheless, that film brought the much needed calm to our house, making my sister hope that such films air every night.

Occurrence of such evenings is a reminder of believing in the normalcy of life. These times are hard but is there a reason to not smile and laugh despite their intensity? What is it that I and my family can learn from that evening and countless others that pass without us noticing?

The value of living in the present.

Because a comforting present makes for a comforting memory tomorrow. It acts as a reminder that every night comes to an end, and sometimes that night can have a meteor shower. It might last for only a few minutes but its worth the wait and makes for an unforgettable evening. A comforting present also builds resilience to face a difficult tomorrow. You hope to sink your teeth deep into this wonderful time so when tomorrow shows up, you’re ready with a smile.

I am yet to fully develop the capacity to cherish a fleeting moment, but rather than worrying about its end, it is important to remember the ease it brings to oneself. Months later, when Mughal-e-Azam plays again, I will perhaps remind Dad that despite the difficulty of those days, we managed to have a good time together. We cracked at a joke, or mulled over a crossword problem. Even prepared meals together.

Most importantly, living in the present has enabled my family to circumvent some of the fears of the future. It acts as a growth mode for the family, to let a happy time stay. Linger on it. Keep reminiscing it. Laugh louder. Laugh longer. As Dumbledore says, “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times. If only one remembers to turn on the light.”

Hi, I’m Mariyam, thank you for reading my post. This is part of my series on finding positivity and decoding the ‘be positive’ attitude as my father fights through aggressive oral cancer.

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You can also follow me on twitter @MariyamRaza for more. Much love 🙂

Mariyam Raza Haider

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A journalist by training, Mariyam Haider is a writer and performance poet in Singapore.
She is the researcher of the book The Billionaire Raj: A Journey Through India’s New Gilded Age written by James Crabtree.
Her writing has appeared in Hindustan Times, Livemint, Feminism In India, New Asian Writing and Kitaab.

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