Where all that laughter has gone? Remember those giggles you shared in the class room? Remember how you laughed and laughed with your friends during combined studies, holding your sides, till tears started rolling down your cheeks? Then surely you must remember the reason for that laughter. No? Try again. At least can you remember the last time you laughed like that recently ? Where do we lose that light mirth which makes us laugh at silliest possible reasons.In this bittersweet life it is the laughter which is the real elixir of life.
The earliest incident I can remember was when I was in my high school. We were studying in a school in Gulbarga and had gone to Gokak to attend the marriage of my friend shobha's brother Vijayanna. In those days it was a practice to travel in a bus all the way from boy's town to the bride's where we were put up in small vacant houses. No such thing as choultry or wedding hall way back then and especially in small towns like Gokak.Even the wedding ceremony was conducted in small houses, covering the entire road in shamiana where the food was to be served. As children we never bothered about the luxuries as what mattered most was the chance to be with friends and miss the school !
On the night before marriage, after dinner we arrived at the adjacent house, called "beegara mane" to sleep. But sleep was the last thing on our mind as we lay on the rows of carpet along with aunties, grannies and mamis. As elders were tired and anxious to get up early in the morning started their sleep and snoring simultaneously, one of the girls could not control her laughter and giggled. Lo. that was the spark for the ignition of the series of giggles that followed. If hers was just a small " khi ! " someone from the other corner joined by a " khee khee " and a third by a louder " hee hee". A grandma who was light on sleep got irritated and snapped " sumne bidkolre " ( sleep silently ). Just imagine! That snap made another giggle loudly, joined by many more. This time ajji lost her sleep and peace completely and shouted loudly " Hucchu mundera bai muchkondu malkolre". ( By the way this slang may shock the citiwallas and people of other part of karnataka,but it was the most accepted language in north Karnataka). Though it ensured a silence for a few minutes, it also ensured a louder snore by aunties and maamis and thereby as a chain reaction of a louder guffaw by the girls.
The hysterical laughter by us awakened the other elders and without even knowing the reason they also started to giggle and like an epidemic it spread the entire house. Even those sleeping in other rooms joined in the laughter and this amused we girls all the more because we were happy that we were successful in waking up all and also avoided being scold. Someone courageous from us got up and switched on the light and we all turned towards ajji to see her reaction. Ajji was having a benevolent and indulgent smile on her face which emboldened us to carry on with our pranks whole night!
On another occasion, during Deepavali vacation I had been to my elder sister Geetha's house in Gangavathi, a small town in Raichur district. It was a joint family and her mother-in-law was very orthodox. She would keep aside a part of the lunch prepared by her aside in the big pooja room separately for her dinner so that so that nobody touches it and she can have her own cooked food and still avoid cooking in the night.
I who was in my high school was totally was unaware of all these intricacies. In the evening when I came back from playing, she told me " Go eat some poori payasa ". She actually meant the food left and kept in the kitchen, but I while playing hide and seek in the afternoon had noticed the poories and payasa kept in the pooja room. So without a second thought I picked four poories and payasa from the pooja room, took to the veranda and ate it. When I came back to the kitchen to drink water and saw a plate of poories and payasam at first I was surprised. Then suddenly it dawned that this is the plate my sister has kept for me on hearing her mother-in-law and I was supposed to eat it.
I picked the poories and tip-toed to the pooja room and put it in the box from which I had taken the poories and heaved a sigh of relief. But the real drama was to start later. In the night when the mother-in-law opened the box, she was perplexed.She started calling my sister " Geetha I had kept six poories and two cups of payasam but now only five poories and one cup of payasam is there. Have you touched it? My sister, who was a new bride to that family was both scared and flummoxed. When she replied in negative her mother-in-law grew all the more suspicious fearing that the cat must have eaten the missing part ! By this time I had realised the whole scene and put the blanket on my head as if in deep sleep but hardly able to control my giggles imagining the looks on the faces of my sister and her mother-in-law.
It was only later that I narrated this to my sister who at first gave a sound slap for my mischief and then could not control her laughter but joined in my giggles recalling the look on her mother-in-law's face !