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Take time to laugh, it is the music of the soul

Man is an animal which laughs. He is also an animal which is laughed at. Laughing is a blessing. when people laugh they look charming. Buck-toothed, hare-lipped and pig-nosed people are exceptions, for when they laugh, they very easily remind the onlookers of the most gruesome scene in a horror movie. Perhaps that is the reason why bucks, hares, pigs and other denizens of the forest are not gifted with the power of laughing. The Great Creator had told them of their limitations perhaps. So it is very heartening to learn that Man is the only animal capable of laughing. Our schoolmasters have taught us that the Hyanas laugh, but the word 'laugh' denotes only a cry made by the animal.However pleasing or frightening it may seem, it cannot be denied that the man who laughs is a living being and he who cannot, can best be nicknamed 'zombie'.

Great scholars have tried to define laugh in their own ways but it can be explained in two short ways:

All that we have to do is to step aside, look upon life as a disinterested spectator and many a drama will turn into a comedy.

A man steps on a banana peel, slips and falls down howling.This scene provokes laughter. But the laughter is more when a man stumbles on a blade of grass and falls with his nose down.The laughter becomes irrepressible when a man in an attempt to kick and drive away a stray dog gets in turn bitten and driven away by the dog.

A short statured and very fat looking woman walking on the road provokes laughter, for she looks like a moving drum. The laughter is more when she is found walking with a man who is in no way better than she, for they look like twin drums on the move. The laughter is irrrepressible when the fat woman is found walking with a lean and haggard looking man, for they remind the viewers of a drum and drumstick. And when we imagine what a funny scene it would make when the drum and the drumstick fight, it provokes a rib- tickling laughter.

The laugh is on others.To laugh we need a target.We are tickled to laugh at others' expense. Molla Nasiruddin once entered a fish market to buy fish for dinner. the market was crowded. He elbowed his way to a fat fishwife. His eyes rested awhile on the wide variety of fish displayed for sale. He picked out one big fish and holding close to his big nose smelt it. The fishwife threw a look of contempt at the Molla. Snatching the fish out of his hand, she yelled; " What the hell were you doing with your lousy nose so close to my fish?" The Molla replied : "Well! to tell you the truth I was only talking to the fish." Amazed at the wit of the Molla, the fishwife enquired, "What did you talk about?" The Molla answered with all seriousness, "I asked him if there was any news from the sea. That's all." The fishwife roared with laughter. "And what did the fish say?" asked she, still laughing at the Molla. "Not quite encouraging", said the Molla and continued:"The fish told me that he had left the sea long ago." The fishwife's face turned pale. Now it was the Molla's turn to roar with laughter.

Once two men were crossing a large field. when they reached the middle of the field, a big bull came charging towards them, perhaps to show them the nearest way to the fence. One of the men found a tree and climbed it as rapidly as possible. The other man couldn't get to the tree in time, but seeing a large sociable hole in the ground, he jumped into the hole. The bull made a lunge for him and just missed him as he went down, and jumped over the hole. The man came up again; the bull turned, saw him, snorted and came back at him. Down went the man, over went the bull. up came the man, back came the bull, till the man up in the tree got excited, and howled down: "You big fool you, why don't you stay down in that hole? You will get that bull so mad he will keep us here all summer!" The man in the hole yelled back: "Big fool yourself! There is a bear in the hole!" This story is illustrative of"The laugh is on you and on me" for both men were caught in a real predicament. When will the bull go away? And when will the man up in the tree come down?

The laugh is on me when I say: 'Hell with that fever.I ran down terribly. I got so I couldn't eat anything solid except rice, meat, vegetables and fruits and I couldn't drink anything except liquids, I went day after day without a wink of sleep, if it hadn't been for the ten hours of sleep I got every night, I guess I would have died."

The laugh is on you when I tell you, "You know some people never sweep under the beds at all- well, you swept everything under the beds." Just imagine your plight, when your kid bounces in from school one day and asks you, " Mum! What is sex?" You launch into a rather stammering clinical dissertation on the facts of life. You look more and more puzzled as you go on. But when your kid pulls out the identification card from the school bag and says,"Well, Mum! I will never get all that stuff in this little space under sex" - then the laugh is on you.

To laugh with others or to laugh at others or to laugh at oneself, one needs a sense of humour. A sense of humour is an expression of one's ability to think. in order for something to strike one as funny, it must be intellectually stimulated.

Once some medical students were asked: "Why is mother's milk the best?" Many students prided themselves on giving scientific reasons, while four of them who had a sense of humour answered differently. Their answers were:

  1. Don't have to boil it.
  2. Dont have to add sugar to it.
  3. Cats can't get at it.
  4. Comes in attractive containers.

Dr. Johnson had a sense of humour, when he defined the 'smoking pipe' thus: "Fire at one end and a fool at the other."

Oscar Wilde had a sense of humour when he said," A man's face is his autobiography. A woman's face is her work in fiction."

Mark Twain had a sense of humour when he advised the mosquito net users thus: " First you tie it, get all the mosquitoes in, then sleep undisturbed outside."

Carlyle once remarked, " The population of England is twenty million - mostly fools." Everybody who read this considered himself one of the exceptions, and therefore enjoyed the remark. No doubt they had a sense of humour including Carlyle who too was an Englishman.

The Roman Emperor Agrippa one day discovered to his dismay that he had a Greek slave who looked almost like a twin of Agrippa. So one day he asked the slave," Did your mother ever come to Rome?" The slave smiled and answered ," No, but my father did". The slave, it is clear from this anecdote, had a sense of humour. Emperor Agrippa too laughed the insult away for he had a sense of humour.

"Humour", said Sri Aurobindo, "Is the salt of existence." A humourless man can't relax his facial muscles and so can't laugh. It has been scientifically proved that laughter is the best medicine for all ailments. Physicians advocate the theraputic value of a hearty laugh.

Once a teacher had a parrot for his student. Whenever the parrot committed a mistake while it was learning, the teacher corrected it by rapping the parrot on its head. In the process of learning, the bird lost the feathers on its head and soon became bald. Its very sight in the looking glass disturbed the bird and from that time on, the parrot, who had previously appeared to be very intelligent, could not talk anymore. The teacher consulted several vets, but none could cure the bird. One day, as the bird was sitting on its bookshelf in its teacher's study a bald headed man entered. The parrot was very excited at the sight of the man. It flapped its wings, gambolled and, to the surprise of the teacher, it regained its speech and said to the bald man, " Oh! you too have a teacher like mine!"

Dear readers, I think you have enjoyed this lightly written article. My humble thanks to Dr. P. Raja for his unique sense of humour and so not a 'zombie'. A few days back, a friend of mine asked me, " Suppose, one morning you got up from the bed and realised that you have forgotten your name, you tried hard to remember but you failed. What would you do then? To speak the truth, I could find no answer. Is there any solution with you? Please help me.

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(c) Alaka Sanyal 1999