I have always wondered what keeps us alive amidst all the problems, stress, illnesses, terrorism, politics and India - Sri Lanka Cricket matches. Then I have realized it is our ability to laugh. That exactly is why I call my blog, "Live, Love and Laugh"!
It is easy to laugh during good times. But evoking even a smile while going through the rough is tough. Right now we are going through some really tough times. My Father in law, a hugely respected man of his times is suffering in the ICCU fighting for life. It has been real agony watching him suffer and continue to suffer. If he is a little better one moment, he is worse the next. This is life !
This is the reason for my posts dwindling over the past weeks. But I am a die-hard optimist, fun loving and positive chap. I often try some humor even during worst of the moments. This perhaps is my in built defense mechanism against stress; both in life and in Intensive Care Unit.
Working in the ICCU, we see people with serious illnesses every day. My staff has been like a family for almost 16 years now. We try our best to save everyone. We win some and we lose some. It hurts when we lose but life has to go on.
I philosophize like this, "Everyone has to go one day. We all have a day, time and place to meet the inevitable. Hence it is futile to fight, sulk, hate and live in negation of the wonder that is called Life". This song is a favorite of mine. Not the picturization, just the words !
We are often easy about our own death, howsoever scared we might be within. But any mention of death of our near and dear ones invariably makes us vulnerable. At least it makes me so. And this precisely is why I am feeling miserable looking at a man I have come to respect for over 13 years; suffering in my own ICCU.
With this long and melancholic introduction, let me move on to the subject. Humor on the death bed or about death itself is not unknown. I Googled for 'Graveyard Humor' and found enough material to be read till I fall dead. Being an Indian and Hindu, I don't relate much to graveyards. I have seen them only in movies. So I believe we can call our brand of humor as "Crematorium Humor" !
There are some jokes I have loved. This is one of them. Standing before the Taj Mahal, a wife asks her husband, "Will you build a monument like this for me too?". Husband, "Sure, so when are you going to die?"
I admit death scares me. Even my own death, though I act cool about it. I was extremely frustrated by the April heat during last summer. The AC in our ICCU wasn't working. I blurted out in the heat of the moment, "When I am dead, please make sure I am burned down in an Air-conditioned Crematorium. I just can't stand the heat". My staff didn't find it funny. But I found it quite witty and that is why I have reproduced it here.
Some people have been really funny in the face of death. There is a story about Tenali Raman's death. When he realized he was going to kick the bucket, he decided to play his final prank.
He went near the wall, raised his legs against the wall and died with his legs at right angles to his body. Since the rigor mortis set in and his body became stiff, it became impossible to lay is body straight on the funeral pyres. Either his feet were up in the air or he was sitting.
This left the people laughing even when he was no more. Thus the story goes about a man who made a name for himself making people laugh. Even in death, he left the people laughing, a tad wistfully perhaps. That is a "Legend" for me!
My father's maternal uncle, Mr. Vittal Kini was one such natural born joker. All of his jokes were in our native language. Translating them in English is tough, almost impossible. But let me give one example here. He was quite sick and was admitted to a nursing home. He had a little nosy, talkative and a bit pompous younger brother. This chap was going on yapping even as our man was suffering.
When the Doctor came for rounds, Mr. Vittal Kini suddenly shouted, "Doctor, give some sleeping tablets...". The Doctor told, "But you don't need any...". Mr. Kini groaned, "No.... not for me Doctor, give it to my brother. He isn't allowing me to sleep". He passed away the next morning !
The younger brother mentioned in the story above was Mr. Devappa Kini. He too was a nice but a little eccentric chap. Famous in his times as a Dilip Kumar clone, he was a maverick of sorts. He was apparently cheated by a priest in a property dispute.
After his death, he was cremated by his sons. My father and uncles were there too. As the body was burning over the pyres, the right leg rose in the air, semi-flexed at the knee joint and deep flexed at the hip. Looking at this spectacle, his youngest son quipped, "Oh God, just look at him. Even after death he is trying to kick the priest". Now this was real Crematorium humor !
If 'Death' is as inevitable as Pakistan's being a thorn in the flesh for India, America's ignorance of rest of the world and Corruption in Indian Politics, it deserves to be laughed at. We can't beat it, we can never get even with it and all of us have to succumb some day. So as long as we live, why not laugh at it ? One can't laugh at death after death. So better laugh when you are alive. You don't lose anything and it costs nothing.
So, make at least two people laugh every day and make sure one of them is You ! A day on which you haven't laughed is a day you haven't lived. A day on which you haven't made at least one more person laugh, is not worth living ! So laugh while you live and laugh till you die. Leave with a smile on the lips of the people !