The Laugh

Before you begin reading this, you should know two things:

First, this is not the kind of post we usually make. It's satire, it's fiction, it's meant to be lighthearted and you will see us branch out more like this in times to come.

Second, this was written in a different time, a time when my biggest gripe with my hometown of Bangalore was traffic. A time before a certain virulent brand of beer raised it's ugly head. But, Bangalore hasn't disappointed, traffic is back to old levels, ongoing beer brand notwithstanding, and this is relevant again.

So read on!

The sky was a desolate gray highlighted by a single angry black cloud as the people of the town of Ganbalroe went about their business. Ganbalroe was a big town, with a lot of self important people, all of whom believed their business was the most important business. Every single person in the town appeared to be perpetually late for wherever they were going, rushing, jostling, running, careening through roads like their life depended on it. And once they got to their destination, they couldn't wait to do it all over again in the evening and go back where they came from. On this particular occasion, the people of Ganbalroe seemed to think they were a little more important than usual, and a little more late than normal, and there was more jostling and rushing and running and careening, and inevitably the unspoken rule that the people of Ganbalroe had to not touch each other while jostling and careening down the road, was broken. One car touched the side of a bus, which in turn tried to avoid it and knocked over a motorcycle, and the owners of the said vehicles quickly got out of their chariots and began to yell at each other, unclear about who's fault it was, but determined not to lose the argument, and by induction, their pride, because their life would be culminated in a failure if they gave ground now. Before long, other chariots of importance had stopped around them and a crowd gathered, each mentally taking sides, believing themselves to be the lone moral compass in the gathered group, Further out, very important people who were very late for where they had to be were harmonizing with their horns. They didn't have time to be standing around while this battle of prides raged. They had important things to do that they were late for.

The orchestra on the road brought the important people in the houses on either side of the road to their balconies, and they added a vocal component to it, harmonizing perfectly with the car horns. Three of the houses had infants that had just been put to sleep, and they voiced their complaints very loudly regarding the recent commotion. Their mothers, who had just put them to sleep started yelling at their husbands for allowing the commotion to be caused, and their husbands started yelling back about how important they were and how late they were, and then leaving in a huff for their important destination. As they banged the door shut, because they were too late to close it slowly, a stray dog by the houses got disturbed from its very important slumber, and it added it's vocal consternation.

In the midst of the dog barking, the doors banging, the mothers yelling, the husbands blustering, the babies crying, the people shouting, the car horns blaring, the gathered group opining and the car, bus and motorcycle driver fighting for their pride, there came a very unusual sound rarely heard in public before. It was loud and high pitched and came in short bursts, and made all the mothers and husbands and people and gathered group turn around to see where it was coming from.

In front of one of the houses, a kid was sitting under a tree, his sparkling eyes following everything that was going on. Again that unusual sound came ringing out, and everyone watching started whispering.

"What is that kid doing?"

"I think that's called laughter"

"My auntie told me about it once, when I was a kid"

"Yes, I remember, I used to do it too before I grew up"

"You were young once? Why didn't you tell me?"

Oblivious to all this, the kid's eyes darted back and forth in the scene of chaos and seeming to see something no one else could, he let out a fresh peal of this... laughter. All the adults watching looked around, for the first time realizing the situation they were in. They saw the three drivers' faces cherry red with pride, the husbands and mothers who simultaneously loved and couldn't stand each other, the dog barking it's head off, not understanding what was going on, and for the first time, they saw what the kids saw. Slowly, one by one, starting as a low rumble in their chest, they let out a roar of laughter, feeling twenty years younger again. The car driver apologized to the bus driver for brushing his side, the bus driver apologized to the motorcycle driver for knocking him over, the motorcycle driver apologized to the car driver for cutting across him, and the people watching cheered and laughed. The babies in their cradles gurgled with laughter and the mothers hugged their husbands.

The kid under the tree looked up, and smiled, at the brilliant blue sky with a single dazzling white cloud as the people of Ganbalroe went back to their business.

Suddenly, no one was late anymore.


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