Happiness

I absentmindedly scrolled through my phone as my other hand tugged at my tie and popped open the top button of my shirt.

Work had been hectic, and I was tired. All I wanted was to get home, freshen up, eat and sleep. But that didn't look like it was going to happen anytime soon. Not with the heavy traffic. My eyes ached from my lack of sleep and long staring at screens, so I slightly rubbed them and put away my phone. Letting out a yawn and stretching as much as the car seats allowed, I looked out the car window in boredom; everything was gloomy to me. My gaze traveled the streets as I watched people; the passers-by, the traders, the school children. Then eventually, it settled on two boys who burst out running into the street from a construction site.

For reasons I couldn't explain, my eyes trailed them. And I got so fascinated everything went into slow-motion. They laughed as they raced and shoved each other, not minding the glares of people they almost ran down, and I just couldn't look away from the carefree and happy aura that was about them. Their bodies had a rhythm to them as they maneuvered cars and people, such that it was almost like a dance. The rays of the sun made their cement dusted, sweat-stained skin glisten, even though some people put so much effort into avoiding body contact with them. The little spaces between the cars in traffic and the people on the roadside didn't stop them from running so much that the wind gave their clothes a funny-looking puff.

I could see them talking and shouting but couldn't hear them over the window glass and the music playing on the car stereo. The music, however, made the view somehow more entrancing, and I wanted to just keep watching them like that. Or maybe even join them. A tap on my knee jerked me out, and it seemed time began to tick again. I scowled."Is everything alright, Sir? I've been calling your name," Farouk, my driver, asked. A frown of concern was etched on his face as he gave me a once-over. That didn't stop the glare I gave as my response. He didn't have to ruin the moment! "I wanted to ask what time you would be leaving for the gala ." He said. I shook my head and waved a hand in dismissal. "I'm not going."

He nodded and turned back to the steering but kept watching me through the rear-view mirror. I ignored him and looked around, trying to find the objects of my spectacle. After turning in my seat and searching for a few minutes, I sighted them at a distance with a woman hawking bread. I was now awkwardly bent in my seat, but I didn't care even though I knew Farouk's eyes were on me. They stood with the woman and some other people over the tray of bread, checking and comparing the loaves. I couldn't help but notice they all carried that happiness on their faces as they chatted. It was around them and was almost palpable. Was it the bread? Did it have some sort of happiness potion in it? Or was it just very delicious?

My curiosity flared; I needed to know! "Farouk, I want to get bread," I said and unbuckled my seat belt, motioning to open the door. It was, however, at that moment the traffic of over an hour moved. The road suddenly became clear. "Alright, sir, I would make a stop at the bakery in the mall," Farouk said with a smile, starting the car. I watched as he geared the car into drive and stepped on the gas. I wanted to shout for him to stop or even jump out of the car. I didn't want any bakery bread! I wanted that bread! That Happiness bread.

But I remained in my seat and dug my nails into the car seat instead. If I jumped out, I could die. And If I asked Farouk to stop, it would raise suspicions, questions, and gossip that would eventually get to my mother, who would go ballistic at the thought of her only son buying and eating street bread. So I turned to feed my eyes the fading image of the 'happy people. It seemed happiness didn't want me. Or maybe I was too much of a coward to go for it.

*IYANULOLUWA OLADIJI#

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