With a sinking heart, Piyush opened the invitation card that the driver of the Bhatias gave him. The Bhatia couple Rohit and Sneha had invited Piyush Mehera, his wife Reema, and their seven-year-old son Maher for their son’s sixth birthday party.
Piyush dreaded this kind of invitation from the Bhatias that disrupted the peace in his house.
Sneha was Reema’s cousin, and unfortunately, Piyush’s job took him to the city where the Bhatias lived.
Rohit efficiently managed an FMCG business. Sneha’s impressive earnings in an MNC often sparked envy amongst her colleagues. The Bhatia couple’s income outstripped Piyush and Reema’s income by nearly tenfold.
Through their occasional visits to the lavish home of the Bhatias, Piyush agonizingly noticed a change in Reema’s demeanor, easily influenced by their opulence.


Presently, Piyush walked with heavy steps towards his home. 

Reema was engrossed in admiring a new Salwar suit. On the cot lay a new dress for Maher.
“I hope your suit is ironed for the occasion. Do you want to buy a new one?” Reema remarked.
“Sneha told me that her driver had dropped the birthday invitation card at your office. Can I see it?” She asked.  
Without a word, Piyush placed the card on the cot.
“Wow! What an exquisite card. It must be so expensive,” Reema raved.
Piyush picked Maher’s suit and was shocked to see the price.
“Reema, is spending so much for a birthday party necessary? Maher will outgrow this suit very soon.”
That was enough to evoke Reema’s anger.
“Do you want to make a fool of ourselves at the party? Kids would come exuberantly dressed. Do you want our son to squirm with shame?” She paused before she flaunted her new dress in front of him.
Piyush held his breath once again, seeing the price tag.
Realizing that arguments would only lead to an unpleasant situation, Piyush remained silent as he watched Reema preoccupied with planning an expensive gift for the birthday without consulting him.
Throughout the evening, Reema spoke of how lucky Sneha was to have wedded Rohit. Their house was stately and beautifully done with expensive furniture and interiors, and Rohit had a whooping turnover last financial year.
“Why do our lives never get so lavish? We both toil hard, but together, we make peanuts compared to them. Will we ever be able to reach up to their status so that we live a happy, contended life?”
The complicated questions that sounded rhetorical came one after the other from a disgruntled Reema.
Piyush knew the following days before the day of the party would be disastrous, and the week after, that would be all the more appalling. Reema would constantly talk about the arrangements, food, return gifts, the attire of the birthday kid, and the ravenously dressed guests. Piyush had this experience the last time they had attended Rohit and Sneha’s wedding anniversary.
‘Wonder why people celebrate wedding anniversaries by inviting everyone for a party.’ Piyush had muttered under his breath, only to receive a sound sermon on bonding, relationships, hospitality, and everything under the sky that Reema accused Piyush of lacking.
Piyush decided to play safe this time without commenting on why someone needed to celebrate a sixth birthday with so much pomp.
The following morning, Maher tugged at Reema’s dress while she was in the kitchen and handed over a note from his class teacher.
‘Parents, kindly send two pairs of old dresses, preferably in decent condition, tomorrow.’
“Teacher is going to take us to an orphanage,” Maher informed. “She says the kids there do not have clothes or toys like us. Some of us are bringing clothes; some are getting toys; a few are getting shoes and socks, and the rest are getting one food item each to the children at the orphanage.”
“What a nice thing to do. Did your teacher tell you what an orphanage is?” Piyush asked, ruffling the kid’s hair.
“Why do these small children need to know about orphanages or visit one?” Reema creased her brows.
“Mom, my close friend Jeetu brought an exceptionally splendid pencil box to class last week. It was beautiful, but he was too possessive about it, saying it was costly and wouldn’t allow me even to touch it once.” The child blinked his eyes innocently. “Observing my modest pencil case, tears welled in my eyes as it paled compared to Jeetu’s in terms of beauty. Similar to how you often mention that your gold necklace doesn’t quite match the magnificence of Sneha Aunty’s.” A brief moment of silence enveloped the room as the child paused, leaving Reema in a state of shock.
“That is when the teacher told us about many children of our age who are deprived of even basic necessities, let alone possessing expensive toys or things. She then said we would visit an orphanage. She told the class that we should not feel bad about what we have or look with awe at others having expensive or extravagant materials; instead, we should feel happy for what one has. Otherwise, she says we can never be contented.” Gulping his milk, he looked at Piyush, “And dad, the teacher says orphans do not have parents. Is that true?”
Piyush hugged him and looked around to find that Reema was missing.
She returned with the newly purchased salwar suit and Maher’s dress.
“Tell your teacher you will be getting new shirts and trousers to distribute to all the kids at the orphanage.” She patted Maher on his chubby cheeks. The child jumped with joy. Piyush could see the tears in Reema’s eyes, struggling not to fall.
A simple answer from Maher’s teacher sorted out Reema’s complicated query regarding finding contentment in life. 

Unable to perceive the simple answer in front of her, Reema only tried to go beyond the obvious at the cost of contentment.

 

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