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Is there Room for Humour in Today’s Sad and Cynical World?

Sometimes, all you can do is laugh, but is humour always the best response? S. V. Venugopalan, believes that the emotional wellness-battering battles of life should always be met with a sense of humour, but his experience has taught him otherwise.

Venugopalan tells of many occasions in which laughing at a problem only made things worse. Standing up and making a joke in a heated meeting, while offering a moment’s respite for a weary audience, only served to prolong the experience for everyone else while Venugopalan was kicked out. He comments, ‘I should thank the organisers for their muscle power lest I would have had to bear with the stuff endlessly that evening,’ but this was not the only time that those without humour had the last laugh.

‘As a school student, I was privileged to have extra sports activities because of my sense of humour,’ says Venugopalan. ‘More often than not, I would be identified to be sent out the moment any teacher entered the classroom. After all, a smiling child is looked at with suspicion in our classrooms. And how dare you put up a cheerful face and a brave smile during the maths period? “Out”! And that was the single English word I have heard frequently in my school life.’

For Venugopalan, his light-hearted nature got the better of him when he found himself the sole laughing man at the monthly residents’ welfare committee meeting, which involved decisions on increased maintenance cost, failed drainage connections, and perennially out-of-service lifts. A fellow resident forcibly ferried Venugopalan to meet his family doctor. He notes, ‘That led to a chain of medical attendants from ENT specialists, orthodontic surgeons, dermatologists, cardiologists to gastroenterologists.’

Eventually, Venugopalan saw a neuro specialist who ‘was puzzled and seemed bowled over after listening to my non-stop joke-telling, cartoon appreciation and jovial dialogues of popular movies. He pointed out that the outside world had way back lost all its fun and wondered how I remained unpolluted. He thought over a little. And, finally, asked me whether I had ever been serious about anything in life. I replied I did not take life itself seriously.’

Venugopalan was given a prescription which changed his humour-driven persona, but he refuses to tell colleagues where his smile has gone. ‘I am yet to share the secret,’ he says. ‘After all, I learnt that at a price and how can I teach them that free of cost? And, I am inwardly happy that a few people have started exchanging secret smiles between them every time I cross them.’ However, the question remains: is Venugopalan the abnormal one for greeting hardships with humour, or are we in the wrong for losing the laughter from life?

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This entry was posted on June 21, 2013 by and tagged , , .
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