Thursday, December 6, 2007


NO LAUGHING MATTER

One serious malady I suffer from excessively, is uncontrollable laughter. There is no force in nature that can keep me from laughing when something strikes me as extremely amusing. I have tried everything, from diverting my line of thought onto something grave and tragic, trying to physically uncurl the corners of my lips and holding them in the right position, to adjusting my facial muscles to put on an expression suggestive of sobriety. Sadly, this is one of the things that fall in the realms of the involuntary. I have learned the hard way, that any attempt to control it, only lets laughter find its way out in more thunderous manifestations.
Since the scope of this matter is too large, I shall limit my narrative to how I managed to get my friend Neena and myself in trouble during our Math class. There is never a dull moment when Neena and I sit together during Math class. Once, we were being taught about “Probability”, and as always, our lecturer had come equipped with his rather unique and exotic set of vocabulary tools. Neena and I were seated on the first bench as usual (we often get away with all the tomfoolery when we sit on the first bench!)
Our first problem was related to the probability of a tossed coin resulting in a head or a tail. Somewhere in the middle of the explanation, our lecturer exclaimed “If a caain(coin) be the heads, can it be the taeels(tails)?” I looked at Neena from the corner of my eyes and my eyes met hers. This is the usual procedure – our eyes meet, laughter bubbles all the way up and temporarily gets stuck somewhere between the palate and the nostrils, then our defeated self-control slowly gives way to the stuffed up laughter. The above sequence of events followed resulting in a half-audible snigger coupled with mild convulsions of the body. The lecturer looked at us, a little bewildered (he wouldn’t get the joke, would he?) but chose not to say anything.
Minutes later, he started relating an incident that had occurred the previous day at the bus stop. How he found the incident relevant to the topic under discussion, I could not tell. “Yesterday I be standing in the bus staap(stop) waiting for a bus, when I see and smell a man smoking. I got angry due to suffocation so I stand beside him and says, “Hey! Switch off your cigarette!!”” He never got to complete that story. In a thoughtless moment, Neena and I let the laughter sneak out of our parted lips and the otherwise silent classroom, reverberated with the sudden outbreak of laughter. The lecturer had his eyes fixed on us, with an expression of loathing, and said “What makes you peoples laaf(laugh), I say?” “No no..”, we replied with a knowing chuckle, “..nothing sir!” Although our lecturer had a gentle heart, he belonged more to the ‘kick-them-out-of-class’ school of thought. We got away with mild rebuke and a warning hinting at the same. This only got us into a tighter tangle than ever – we had to exercise more efficient control over the uncontrollable.
Ten more minutes and we’d be done with the class with the much-desired attendance obtained. The last problem dealt with the probability of the occurrence of an earthquake. “Take down praablem(problem) number six”, he boomed, “AN EARTHQUAKE WAS CONDUCTED IN 1996…” We never heard him complete that question. I looked at Neena. She looked back at me with an expression I have never witnessed on any human countenance before or since. Laughter had been invoked in its most virulent form. After ten seconds of superhuman effort, it made frantic struggles for freedom and sent us into violent fits of unparalleled convulsions. I laughed harder as if I had seen a bit of humour that had escaped Neena. We had made the lecturer’s blood pressure hit a new high. There was no earthly necessity for our getting up. When the laughter had subsided, we found ourselves in the corridor and heard the loud thud of a well-slammed door.