Laugh it off

Arshid Malik

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Laughter is the best medicine and I agree cent percent. And who doesn’t. I have always alleviated my pain by means of laughter and by laughter I mean roaring laughter that almost makes your sides burst, as they say. In the past few months a standup comedy-cum-celebrity show has been a part, a very crucial part of my week’s regime. I would leave it to every ones guess expect the hint that it is telecast every Sunday in the night. The guy there, who has earned a great name and respect for himself in his quite a short stint of time is a hilarious character and even while he is not cutting jokes or doing comedy the very plain sight of him sends me rolling on the floor in laughter. Well, after all that a person goes through in his or her life there should always be an hour or so of bellied laughter. So, this show does it for me. In fact our whole family likes it, especially my 10-year-old son who is a great fan of this comedian. On Sunday nights we have our dinner early and with refreshments ready wait for the show to be aired. It is just outrageous.

Laughter is the best medicine and this I want to say to my fellow Kashmiri people who have been terrorized and stressed out for a long time now. I find that people of Kashmir do not laugh as often as they should. There are more of long faces than smiling ones.

I have found out a very unique thing in foreign television programmes aired regularly on premier cable channels. Such programmes speak a lot about the vivid day to day culture of people living in developed parts of the world like Europe who are very fun loving, and so are the Americans. They enjoy laughter and do not mind a prank or two which can make them laugh. These television shows I am talking about are all about pranks. They run pranks on complete strangers who are absolutely unaware of situations and while the strangers are surprised at first but as soon as they realize, or are told, that a camera crew is sitting inside a lorry or behind some tree they burst out laughing. Now, the other day one such prank show played with a few strangers. There was lovely cake sitting on a table covered with cloth and there was a host who was inviting pedestrians to try a little bit of cake. As soon as the stranger would dig into the cake with a fork, a spoon or his or her bare hand, another human hand would burst out of the cake trying to catch their hands. The other human hand was artificial but made to look like a human hand. Someone hiding under the table was manipulating the artificial hand in such a manner that the people attempting to taste the cake were terrified. What happened next is very amusing. The stranger(s) were told that it was a television prank show and that they were on television over which the shocked strangers would burst out laughing. They would not mind the trickster but would certainly enjoy a hearty laugh. Now imagine a scenario like this in Kashmir, let us say on the banks of the famous Dal Lake. Put a cake there with the same idea of a prank and invite a stranger to taste the cake. Once the stranger would dig his or her hand in and receive the shock of his/her lifetime (since people in Kashmir are frighteningly fidgety because of the prevailing circumstances) he or she would offer you a sound slap or perhaps “even offer to chop your head off”. That is so true, common humor does not work in Kashmir and that shows the traumatized mentality of every Kashmiri.

Now, what I am suggesting is that Kashmiri people should not forget their laughs and smiles for all that this world is worthy of is having a little bit of fun – rest all is painstakingly harsh and cruel. I wake up every morning and look myself in the mirror and give myself this message. I convince myself that the world is made up of all good stuff and there are some bad things here and there but that should never get on my nerves.

I implore my Kashmiri people not to be bogged down by irrationalities for our society is stuck in such a conundrum that stress is inevitable. I have seen long queues of mentally depressed and instable people standing outside the only psychiatric diseases hospital in Kashmir and the numbers are growing.

There is a lot to laugh and learn in Kashmir. Kashmir is a rich place, full of valuable heritage and culture. Let us all laugh together and forget the miseries that we have undergone. You might get me wrong here. I am not saying that we should forget all the atrocities and crimes that have been committed against us but ugly vagaries can bring us down but if we keep on smiling even the “enemy” will fear us for it won’t understand.

If you do not have anything to laugh about – Allah forbid – watch that famous comedy show I told you about every Sunday, for laughter is the best medicine.

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