It’s a warm sunny day as I take my wife and my daughter to the carnival that opened a few days ago in my town. My wife, beautiful as ever and my little girl, the sunshine of my life, smiling happily as we go through the carnival, stopping at various rides and kiosks, taking the warm summer air in and being at bliss. As we move further inside, Lily, my daughter, suddenly leaves my side and runs into the crowd. We follow after her, only to find her standing in front of a carousel, her eyes filled with wonder at the blinking lights and the horses going up and down, in a rhythmic session.
A while later, Lily is sitting on one of the horses, laughing happily at the wavy motion she is experiencing, her hand continuously waving towards the crowd, as if bidding them goodbye before taking a long journey into the horizon. My wife and I look at each other. She smiled, and suddenly, a memory from far away in time strikes me.
The time was when I had just entered my teenage years. As with typical teenagers, I was always broody, feeling a sense of anger at the world, my life, my parents and practically everything around me, even my little brother. So when I was forcefully told to take my brother to a carnival, I thought I would never ever forgive my parents for this and my brother would pay for this injustice one of those days.
As we entered the carnival, my brother ran towards the first ride he laid his eyes upon, a carousel. There were two carousels in the carnival, one with horses and the other with horse carriages. The first one, moving at slow speed, was for kids and the other was where the kids were to be accompanied by an elder. I tried to take my brother to the kids version, but he adamantly said he wanted a carriage, not a horse. Unable to influence him anymore, I had to sit with him in one of the horse carriages. Totally embarrassed to sit with my little brother, I kept looking the other way as he tried to grab my attention to enjoy the ride with me. After a while, he also stopped enjoying and sat down, a look of pure sadness on his face.
I looked at him, unable to understand why he wanted me to enjoy the ride so much. ‘It’s just a dumb ride,’ I thought.
“Hey,” a voice called me. I looked in front and my breath stuck in my throat. I had seen more beautiful girls in my life, but there was something about her that made me feel my brain turn completely upside down. I could see her lips moving but my brain has completely stopped registering anything.
“Did you even hear what I said?” she said.
“Huh…” I felt my mouth uttering this sound as I slowly came back to my senses.
“I said, don’t treat your brother like that; he doesn’t deserve it. He looks up to you. Just like my sister looks up to me.” She nodded at the little girl sitting near her, her hair waving in the air as she smiled happily towards my brother.
Before I could reply, both girls turned back to the front and started playing with each other. For the first time in my teenage life, I felt bad for being a jerk to my brother. I smiled at him, tickled him, made him stand in the chariot as he felt the gust of air on his face as the carousel spun round. I looked at the girls again, and found, to my surprise, the elder sister smiling at me. I smiled back. She looked down and turned away.
As the carousel ended, we got off and in the crowd, I lost sight of the sisters. I tried searching for them as much as I could, but to no avail, and my brother ran off into the crowd. I followed him, and found him standing near an ice cream truck. As I bought him and myself some ice cream, a voice whispered in my ear, soft and sweet, “Hey…”
Today, as I watch my little girl turn around on the ride, her hand waving, her smile not faltering for one moment, I look at my wife, and I see the smile that captivated me so long ago at that carousel with my brother, the smile that has been captivating me ever since, every single day of my life, the smile that I see reflected in my daughter, and in that moment, I see my life complete, I see myself as the happiest person on the planet, my heart palpitating with joy as the brightly blinking lights of the carousel.