It is a panacea for all those ills that afflict the society
Salt N' Pepper
AJAZ A BABA
Why humour? That’s a funny question! Of course to make people laugh! But then what is there to laugh about in these gloomy times? Well that is it! It is probably this need to laugh out when there is nothing really to laugh about which gives rise to humour and satire.
Now that reminds me of a story I read a long time ago. There was this king (in the story) going through a forest, when he was held up by a monster of sorts who wanted to offer him as a sacrifice to some deity. The king used the glib tongue of diplomacy and his life was spared but not before the monster extracted a promise from him that he would soon return with a young lad to be sacrificed in his place (A discerning reader will note that the practice of sacrificing a commoner for the convenience of the ruling classes has always been in vogue!).
Once the king returned to his palace he started sighing and mooning and in general putting on the nation-at-risk act. This did not fail to attract the attention of a rather devoted couple in the employ of this royal personage. And as they came to know about the cause of the king’s anxiety that handy concept of ‘Patriotism’ arose within them. Yes the same sentiment that makes soldiers (and even common people for that matter!) dismember and disembowel the ‘enemy’ (albeit a complete stranger to them!) on the borders (and the streets as well!).
Anyway with this worthy sentiment in their hearts the couple accompanied the king to the forest along with their to-be-sacrificed young son. After the formality of introductions was over, the monster lifted his sword to sever the young fellow’s head to propitiate the gods. As the sword started its murderous descent the boy broke into loud uncontrollable laughter! This naturally puzzled (not to say startled!) the executioner who set aside the sword and demanded the cause of this unexpected and inappropriate outburst of mirth.
At this the phantom, who was the one relating this whole story (Now I recall it was one of those Vikram and Vetal tales!) paused and asked the wise king Vikram (not to be confused with the king in the story so far!) as to why the lad laughed out when he should have been crying and howling instead!
The wise King Vikram replied thus: Normally when a kid is threatened with any danger he cries out to his parents for help. Now in this case the parents themselves were setting up the lad for sacrifice (or murder surely if you would have his view point!). Then again it is the king (or say the government!) that is responsible for the life and wellbeing of the subjects or the citizens but again here the king was a party to the killing (Of course all of it being in the ‘National Interest’!). Where does a man turn to as a last resort? Where else but to God (or gods, if you prefer the plural!)? But here he was being sacrificed to supposedly propitiate a god only! Under the circumstances what else was left for the lad to do except laugh!
That’s laughter as the last resort! What happened to the kid? Sorry that’s not mentioned. Maybe he was slaughtered all the same. Or again maybe his laughter drove some sense into his tormentors and saved his life! Maybe realizing the power of laughing out loud, kings, monsters and pseudo-patriotism notwithstanding, he grew up to become a humour and satire columnist (or its primitive equivalent whatever!).Alas! We don’t have the means to know.
The point is that laughter can even arrest an executioner’s sword and make him ponder what it is all about. In the very least it can disconcert (even if momentarily!), generate a qualm or two or maybe even pinch alive a dormant conscience! Besides if you noticed, nobody asked the young fellow his opinion on the whole issue till he laughed out loud and clear.
So never take humour lightly! Come to think of it, those old time kings were a wise lot. They used to have court jesters and these ‘wise fools’ would not only provide amusement but many a wise counsel to them. Many a time a mere jest inspired more justice than a tomeful of straightforward advice (look up old Birbal for reference!). Ego being what it is a royal ear would invariably be more receptive to words of wisdom from a jester, a joker or a ‘fool’ if you prefer!
Along with kings the court jesters also went out of vogue. Life goes on however and there still are rulers and the ruled, the privileged and the underprivileged, the aggressor and the victim… and instead of the court jesters an occasional humour and satire columnist (a quote jester, so as to say!) or a cartoonist!
Not that one is naive enough to suggest that humour is a panacea for all those ills that afflict the society or what is euphemistically called the ‘system’! It can, however, be a mighty potent weapon or in the very least it can act as a safety valve for our bottled-up indignation! And if nothing else it does help to sugar coat the bitter reality…
(Truth is mostly unpalatable…but truth cannot be ignored! Here we serve the truth, seasoned with salt and pepper and a dash of sauce (iness!). You can record your burps, belches and indigestion, if any, at email@example.com)
Lastupdate on : Sat, 9 Feb 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 9 Feb 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 10 Feb 2013 00:00:00 IST
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