"Money can't buy happiness." my father would say at the end of the month when his finances were low, and he could barely afford to buy groceries.
I always thought poverty somehow convinces you that it has some positive effects. Of course, you can buy happiness. Ask a five-year old with empty pockets looking yearningly at an orange popsicle in the sweltering sun. Look at the old lady who slides her worn sole and soul to work, pausing at the shoe store. Look at the tightly wound masseuse catering to chattering old ladies with money to burn.
Seven-year-old me had figured out this simple truth. By the time I went to high school. my start-up had already begun to take shape.
Selling happiness. A simple idea but it met with opposition. First from my parents, then society but not from investors. Investors like me see the opportunity after stripping away layers of social constructs, imaginary roadblocks and looking at human nature in its birthday suit.
I got my funding and initially my clients would come furtively as if they were doing something bad. They were rich people who wanted to "buy" happiness. I would look at their profile, their experiences and give them something to disrupt their ennui.
Meanwhile, my own happiness was increasing as fast as my wealth. I bought a house, a feat which all past generations of my family had failed at achieving. Met someone nice, got married, had kids. Every day on my way to work in my foreign-made car, I would pass the run-down steel cottages where my parents still lived. They had refused my help.
My father staunchly believed that the money I earned was unhappy money, it had been traded for happiness. I could not reason with him. It remained a black spot on my otherwise golden life. So, one day I walked into my office and sat in front of one of the happiness consultants I'd hired.
"Today, I'm a client and not your boss. I need my father to accept my money and live comfortably. Help me be happy and give him happiness."
Nothing happened for a while, and I thought he’d failed in his task.
The next month as I crossed my old house, I saw a moving truck. My father was wearing a new shirt, fitted pants and socks without holes. My mother had bought a sari after a long time. A golden necklace adorned her neck and lit up her smile further.
Mystified, I went to office and asked the consultant to see me.
He came in and handed me a receipt.
"Your task has been accomplished. A month back, I registered to create a state lottery, then two weeks later, I convinced your father to buy a lottery ticket from me saying that I needed emergency funds. Yesterday, he won. He bought a house and is going on a trip with your mother. They seem happy."
I smiled. Money can buy happiness, maybe not the best kind but enough to sustain us.