Laughter relaxes and rejuvenates us. But, should we laugh at others? Ruchira tells us how the brutality of the society is exposed when they make fun of and laugh at others. Read more in the weekly column, exclusively for Different Truths.
“Laughter is the best medicine,” goes the old adage. Everybody laughs while enjoying a good joke. But laughing at other people for no apparent reason is very unkind.
Believe me, this is a rather common phenomenon in our society today. I am not alone. Many of my family members and friends have undergone similar experiences, If you don’t wear trendiest clothes, people – at bus stops, malls, inside buses or metro – will stare at you and pass smiles to each other; if you hair clasp does not match your footwear, it evokes silly grins. Makes you feel like an extra-terrestrial.
Personally, there is nothing that I can do to change my appearance. Can I? I stand 5 ft. 7 ½ inches tall barefoot, am stocky built and overweight. I have large feet which prevent me from wearing dainty stylish shoes. On top of it, I have a large head, broad face and snub features. Yet I don’t see what is so funny about my particulars.
Similar reactions happen when I wear western outfits and use the public transport for commuting. I can jolly well gauge their thoughts: An auntie in jeans? Not right. Jeans is only for bachchalog. It is so infuriating to see this happening day in and day out.
At times, in retaliation, I feel like making fun of thin, short, skimpy individuals. But I restrain myself in time, telling myself it is not right to stoop to such depths. My daughter is 5’11 at 23. She is graceful and shapely. Yet when she walks the streets in our neighbourhood there are stares and jeers galore, though the young lady cares two hoots.
At different points of time, my late mother-in-law and mother both of whom were afflicted by orthopaedic ailments used wheelchairs to visit the doctors’ clinics. Some patients and their attendants who were hanging around, would smile and gossip among themselves. The reasons were best known to them. Why don’t such nerds realise that such things could happen to them anytime, anywhere? How mean and heartless human beings become sometimes.
The worst part is when you understand that you are not to be blamed in any way. I will now narrate a rather painful incident, which happened to me, many moons ago.
For a very brief period, I worked in a residential school in Delhi-NCR. I have a rather husky (read unfeminine) voice, though I did not let it get in my way. This was much after the blockbuster Mr India had been released. I had barely settled in when the pupils of all classes, who passed me by in the school premises began addressing me as Mogambo. Gradually this became a routine affair. The hailing was generally followed by peals of laughter. I even noticed a couple of my colleagues instigating the children to tease me in this manner. Though I put up a brave face, yet it did hurt and badly. I am human after all.
Another shocking incident occurred while I was on a trip to Hardwar a couple of years ago. We were queued up to visit Mansa Devi temple, up in the hills. To beat the summer heat, I wore jeans and a tee shirt. It was foolish on my part. I had forgotten that the orthodox rustic folks were not accustomed to seeing women attired in this fashion. To cut a long story short, after the visit ended and I returned to the hotel, I was dismayed to find that the women and children in the queue behind me, had soiled my shirt with oil, stains of curry, blobs of ice-cream, et al. Why, there was even a thin plastic tail glued to my waist! Is it right on part of the so-called devout folks to behave in this fashion their way a darshan of the deity? I really wonder.
Generally speaking, if I really determine, I could sneer at the slovenly, unkempt folks with dishevelled hair (also beard in men) overpowering body odour, unwaxed bodies, hair inhabited by lice, squeaky voices and what have you. Why do females of all ages consider themselves paragons of beauty? In that case, they might as well make a beeline to Bollywood.
Which individual however presentable and good looking he/she may be, is the epitome perfection and beauty non pareil? I have matured with every passing year, learnt to live with it, though many times I wonder at human follies and foibles.
©Ruchira Adhikari Ghosh
Photos from the Internet
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Born in Guwahati Assam, Ruchira grew up in Delhi and Punjab. A product of Sacred Heart Convent, Ludhiana, she holds a Master’s degree in English Literature from Punjab University, Chandigarh. Armed with a P.G diploma in journalism in Journalism, she has been a pen-pusher for nearly 25 years. Her chequered career encompasses print, web, as well as television. She has metamorphosed as a feature writer, her forte being women’s issues, food, travel and literature.