I can do no better than reproduce the introduction I have written for my 9th Joke Book. It says all I want to say about my being an inveterate Joker. "I was 94 when Joke Book 8 was published I was sure that it would be the last of the series. I was on a diet of pills and in poor health. But here I am 97 years old and here is Joke Book 9 (orient). Laughter is evidently the elixir of life, the best tonic in the world to ensure a long and happy life.
Laughter is not only the best tonic but humorous writing and relating other people's jokes is very lucrative, as both my publishers and I have found. Everyone of the earlier books in the series has gone into more than a dozen reprints. They are to be seen on pavement, railway station and airport bookstalls.
But not everyone enjoys jokes, especially when they are the target. This is especially true of politicians who have notoriously thin skins. We have had quite a few very good cartoonists - Shankar Pillai, R.K. Laxman, Vijayan, Rajinder Puri, Mario Miranda. Their cartoons have enlivened our newspapers and magazines and brought a smile on our faces. But many politicians and political parties take themselves very seriously and consider far too many topics as sacred cows not to be laughed about. They take umbrage at being the butt of jokes.
Laughter for them is no laughing matter. They serve who poke fun at them with legal notices - or worse.
I cannot take credit for the jokes appearing in the book. A large number were sent to me by readers who have been acknowledged by their names. Some I made up or moulded from jokes I picked up from friends, books and magazines.
At the end of the day, more than my other work as a novelist, short story writer, historian of the Sikhs or translator, I am known for my joke books. At every gathering, I am implored, 'Kkoi joke-shoke ho jai' - let there be a joke or two. I am known as a Joker.
To this introduction I add four jokes sent by my readers:
1) Fogged out
Santa while out driving one morning lost his way, since the visibility was down to nearly zero due to heavy fog. To be safe, he decided to closely follow a car that was driving in front of him, and when it slowed down, overtake and ask the driver where they were.
The car in front, after driving for some time, suddenly without any warning stopped, causing Santa's car to bump into it. The driver of the car got out and started shouting at Santa.
'It's not my fault,' Sant a shouted back, 'How can you stop so suddenly, without giving any indication or warning?" The driver of the other car looked at Santa queerly and asked in surprise: "You want me to given an indication that I am going to stop inside my own garage?"
(Rajeshwari Singh, Delhi)
2) Sad Day
What is the Day of Judgment?
When Valentine's Day and Raksha Bandhan fall on the same day.
(J.P. Singh Kaka, Bhopal)
3) Two-Piece covering
My friend has never approved of scantily-clad young women. So it was with trepidation that he watched as his youngest daughter, an aspiring candidate in a beauty contest modeled her first bikini.
'Look Daddy,' she said, I bought this with the birthday money you and Mom gave me.' My friend stared, glared and then snapped, 'We didn't give you much, did we?"
(Reeten Ganguly, Tezpur)
3) Finger Test
Several young boys were rounded up by Delhi police for a medical check-up to determine the paternity of a certain teenage girl's baby.
Chandulal went in and after a few minutes came out "Don't worry, fellows," he smiled: "They'll never find out. They're taking blood samples from my finger."
(Anirben Sen, New Delhi)
5) No room for Bapu
A Managing Director of a company was distressed to find that many men working under him had been found guilty of corruption. In order to teach others a lesson, he proposed to the Board of Directors that they put pictures of the corrupt men on the walls of the main reception room just as the police display photographs of criminals in the main hall of the police station. Hearing this, the youngest member of the Board remarked: 'If we do so, there will be no room left for photographs of Mahatma Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh."
(Ramesh Kotian, Udupi)
6) Pure Truth
Message from Sri Ravi Shankar in Goa: Having a wife is part of living. But having a girl friend along with a wife is 'Art of Living.'
(Vipin Buckshey, Delhi)