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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Sep 2014

That innocent look

Rajbir Deswal, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, August 04, 2014
First Published: 09:37 IST(4/8/2014) | Last Updated: 09:42 IST(4/8/2014)

A boy and a girl, both aged about 5, begin to walk from either side of the stage to the centre, and enter the shining circle of beamed light at their school's annual-day function. The dazzling ball of mercury flash makes them conscious, though they must have rehearsed their lines umpteen times. Since the crowd before on the actual performance day is unfamiliar, they begin to fumble and look at each other, sort of bewildered. Their blusher-treated cheeks develop a natural pinkish shade. The audience begins to chortle and tee-hee.

The duo on the stage, with all the defence mechanism activated, put up a face in spite of all intimidation and repeat their dialogues to reach the cue from where they were supposed to take off.

The audience now is laughing and clapping.

The girl holds the boy by the arm, chastises him, and mumbles his lines to him-both doing all this as if no one is watching. A boisterous applause follows. The boy and the girl regain their composure and then themselves are laughing, to the amusement of all.

I once met an officer who though had called me in and made me sit in front had kept busy with the file on his table. Making side notes and corrections for a long time, he almost forgot that he had company. I began to feel embarrassed but there was no letting the officer realise this until a large amount of saliva trickled from the left cusp of his lips and landed on the file.

He looked up, apologised to me, took out his handkerchief and began to clean the paper but only ended up making it dirtier. Post-haste, he gave me his undivided attention, besides sending the boy out to fetch tea. I had the virtual last laugh.

At an old-age home, the inmates sat in the open on a pleasant evening. The ageing men and women, mostly infirm in own respective ways, were having a good time interacting. Someone said a joke, while another mimicked and regaled, not bothering if the performance was any good. As an octogenarian reciting a couplet repeated the opening line several times, his upper denture fell off and stuck out. His buddies didn't mind but just laughed it away, saying: "Put the cassette back and play it again."

If during a stage performance, the fake moustache peels off, it invites laughter; but if the actor tries to paste it back, it is even more amusing. These are the guffaws that are more honest.

Moustaches remind me of my pet, Chhoti the cat, who having drunk milk on the sly appears dead honest before me, with droplets resting on her whiskers; and I unable to resist laughing. Murphy's Law: things that can go wrong will go wrong. But some lapses of a charitable kind are cathartic, godsend to purge the soul.

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