James knew it was going to be an awkward day for him from the moment that he stepped out of the door. The sun was shining and everything but all that he felt inside was empty. It was like someone had run by and snatched his will to live without any prior warning and taken off at full speed down the street, leaving James with only a mild protest and no willpower, nor strength to chase after him. He looked around wondering what could have happened. Everything in his life was perfect – or at least seemed that way.


Here he was; a man in his mid 35’s and living the Kenyan dream. A wife, three children, a house in the leafy suburbs, a sports car, a job that paid for everything, job security and a small dog. What could James possibly want out of life that he didn’t have, or was about to buy? Yet, standing on his porch with his briefcase in hand, he felt a certain dread. It was as if the lavish offices where he worked had turned into some sort of monster and were ready to gulp him up bit by bit at the slightest hint of him being there.


The worst thing about this feeling though was that it had hit James like a rock. It had come from nowhere. Just 5 minutes ago he was inside the house kissing his model of a wife goodbye and making sure his three kids had everything ready for school and now this. He stood, alone on the front porch staring down his S class Mercedes as if it was the worst thing that happened to him. The only question lingering in his mind being “Why aren’t I happy?”


This question kept nagging at him. His mind boggled. The question swirled, unanswered bothering him. Nagging at his shoulder. For half an hour he stood. Then, with all the resolve that a man of his class could muster he took a step towards the car; then another; then another until he finally got to the door. Then to the office and sat at his desk to do his job. He put the question to the back of his mind until slowly it faded away, and in fading away it lost its form. The words contorted, distorted, changed and became disoriented.


“Why aren’t I happy?

“Why aren’t I happy?”

“Why should I be happy?”

“Who needs to be happy?”

“Who needs happiness?”

“What is happiness?”


And in this form remained. Anaesthised, dulled, numbed, bureaucrised all that was left was a lingering question at the back of the mind of a man who had done everything that society had demanded of him; everything that made the “perfect” member of society. All that lingered at the fragments of his soul was a long lost aftertaste of the days when he was happy. The word; foreign. It was like a dream. “what is happiness?”

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