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Kusumlata: A Gulmeher story of changing not just circumstances but, mindsets

Western philosophy professes the pursuit of happiness as life’s biggest goal. But happiness is like a firefly, that glows for a night and fades out with the coming of dusk.

It is 8:30 A.M on cold winter morning. Having finished her morning household chores, Kusum Lata Devi is on her way to Gulmeher’s East Ghazipur centre. She works there in the handicrafts unit. Recalling her early days at Gulmeher, she tells us how she found the work at Gulmeher to be fun and was able to pick it up quickly.

It is the onset of winter, and the air is somewhat nippy, though the clear sky promises a pleasant sunny day ahead. Kusum Lata walks across a tea-stall and sees a young boy no more than 10, working there as an errand boy.

I wonder how much he earns. Not much, I believe,’ thinks she, as she can’t help but feel a little sorry for the boy. By being employed at this tea stall at such a young age, not only is he being deprived of his childhood, but he is also being denied a chance to increment the value of his labour through education, something that would ill serve
him in his future.
The different training programs she had gone through at Gulmeher over the course of the last few years had given her an implicit understanding of this concept. It is for this same reason, that she is assiduous about the education of her children. She had them enrolled in a government school near Panipat and wants them to become educated professionals in the future.
You might want to ask, what do all these labours earn her? Has she found some kind of eternal happiness? Well, of course not. The nature of life is such that grief follows joy, and joy grief, and no one can break this cycle. What Kusum Lata has found through her labours is a sense of fulfilment, that comes when one strives for noble goals. Ancient Greeks, termed this feeling as ‘Eudaimonia’, which they considered of more value to a human being than any amount of happiness.

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