Memories that warm one’s heart : The delight in simple things | Sunday Observer

Memories that warm one’s heart : The delight in simple things

“Teach us delight in simple things,” wrote Rudyard Kipling years ago. I remembered this line of the verse last week, when I heard a story from a lady I have known for some time.

This is her story: “Yesterday, I got home at 7.00 p.m. feeling tensed and rushed. I was late starting dinner, and my husband and I had planned to attend a church meeting at 7.30.”

“Suddenly, the lights went out - throughout the neighbourhood. Then, I remembered the scheduled power-cut. But, I also realized, with relief, that there would be no meeting because of the blackout. Our spirits rising, I called my husband and children to help me cook dinner. I gave the choice of the menu, to the children.”

“My children were happy and chatty during dinner. And, for me, it was an unexpectedly lovely evening. After the children had gone to bed, my husband asked, “Do you suppose it could be like this more often?”

“Of course,” I assured him. “We’ll just make an effort, and -”

“Maybe what we need is to make less effort,” he suggested thoughtfully. “That meeting we were going to tonight, for example - we had nothing to contribute to it. We merely thought we should show up. I wonder how much of our time we fill with things that don’t count -things not important enough to justify the effort we spend on them.”

“Was it possible, if we slowed down our merry-go-round we might take new delight in the scenery?” I asked myself.


Like this lady, most of us are inclined to over complicate happiness - and risk losing it in the process. We deny ourselves countless pursuits that should be fun - the book we should read, the play we should see.

We sometimes forget, as we grow older, the magic that is around us. We let petty distractions blur our vision of enchantment. Life is frittered away in unnecessary details.

I remember a couple whose marriage, after 3 years, was in grave danger of collapsing. They were quarrelling increasingly, their one hope was that a vacation away from the city might bring them closer. Reading through the newspapers, they found an ad for a home to let on rental, which sounded ideal: “Choice location, desirable road, all conveniences, easy living.”

When they went to see the place, they could hardly believe their eyes. It was a ramshackle old house at the end of a tiny road in the middle of nowhere. The inside, although clean and neat, was downright primitive.

“What is this?” the husband stammered to the genial owner. “You advertised conveniences - location – desirability.”

“Yes, sir,” the old man replied proudly. “You’ll go a long way to beat this place for those things. Why, look out there! No main road for miles around. Sleep like a log, no traffic noises. As for conveniences - you got a broom, brushes, mops, a few pots, and a gas stove that still works. No chance for heavy housekeeping. No chance for gardening, either - its wild bushes and wild flowers all over the garden. That’s what makes the living so easy,” he beamed.

On a wild impulse the couple decided to take the house. They wrote me, saying no doubt they would be bored and back in town within a week.

But, they did not come back. After three weeks I received a surprising message from them, describing their life in that little house. They told me how they sat together on the porch in the evening, under the scramble of sweet blooming flowers, and talked and talked - because there was nothing else to do. No TV, no radio! “We haven’t talked like this in years,” the message said.

By day, they picked fruits, sat lazily in a patch of sun to eat them. The best news of all was scrawled in big letters at the end of the message. “We never would have thought of leaving each other if we had got really acquainted before. . . . Bless this house.”

Bless any house

Yes, bless any house where, things that count are not pushed out by those that don’t.

Years ago, I was invited by a friend to a dinner party at the home of a woman famed as an exceptional hostess. As I approached the handsome house, I wondered nervously if my outfit was appropriate, if I could hold my own in the knowledgeable conversation.

At my ring, the door was opened by a casually dressed, merry-faced young woman who put me at ease at once. “Come on out into the kitchen and keep me company,” she urged.

In the kitchen I found six other guests: one was making a salad, others were carrying dishes out to a prettily laid table in the living room. Before I knew it, I was pitching in, chatting and laughing with the others.

The dinner was delicious, the conversation pleasant. After we had eaten, she took us out to the terrace. Gradually, we became aware of the scents of the flowers exuding from the garden, the slow upward sail of a great white moon, a gathering intensity of the stars; of the night itself, its magnificent beauty.

We resumed a soft conversation, our companionship strengthened by the rare experience we shared.

“What a magical evening Sonali has given us,” I murmured to one of the guests.

“She always does,” he answered. “Sonali understands the simplicity of joy.”

Simplicity of joy

The simplicity of joy . . . a precious understanding, and one which can belong to anyone, rich or poor, young or old. When life is spent and all added up, what are the memories that warm our hearts? The happy laughter of a child as we swung him high; the joys of an after-dinner hour when we put aside the dish washing for a while and just sat and talked; the movie we saw together and the ice cream we enjoyed afterwards.

Fleeting fragments of wonder that can come to every one of us - the delight in simple things.