9.20.2012

Laughter, where art thou?


A quiet giggle behind the hand clamped over mouth. A full throaty laugh when there were no reprimands. Easy laughter, easy. My earliest memories in this domain are from the time we moved to Bangalore when I was nearly 10. Back in those days my brother and I were camped out at our uncle's house. Dinner time brought the whole family together and with it brought a great deal of entertainment and physics. The latter deserves a post unto itself. Our cousins were younger to us and being boys were as boisterous as they could be. I remember that a pout on my easily offended youngest cousin's (all of 6 years old then) face was enough to extricate a guffaw from me. I was constantly being inducted to the little ladies club by my uncle's constant harangue against my giggles. My laughter was easy and infectious. There were many occasions when my grandma or my mother, induced by my laughs, would let slip a smile in a stern situation. I could be made to laugh with the slightest provocation and my brother mostly showed this off to the world, as would a magician his tricks. All he had to do was say "heeee" and I would start uncontrollably laughing. As I ploughed through school and college I have frustrated innumerable friends with my inscrutable smile and yet I never stopped smiling. When I started working, a colleague had once set me apart as the one who is always smiling behind her computer screen. Made me sound like a lunatic in that forum but I knew it was true. I couldn’t get myself to stop laughing at the hilarious forwards. I have even intimidated with my smiles, a prowess, unintentional as it were, I have not been proud of. Recently, my parents came to stay with us for a couple of months and a few days ago my dad made an observation that shook the ground from under my feet. He said he doesn’t see me smiling or laughing any more. I realize now that my secret feelings about V and her dad enjoying life in spite of me were true. I no longer am able to smile easily let alone laugh. I don’t find a 4 year old's pranks or petty cranks funny enough to laugh. I can’t defuse a tense situation with laughter anymore. Oh I can fake a smile and bring out extremely good variations in photographs. But where is the original giggle gone? Did I lose it as I trudged through shallow goals? I have seen people all around me become kids around my darling daughter and I am the only grown up. I have lost the only power I ever had, growing up, as a superhero.
Today traversing through Twitter I found a cure for my troubles - face yoga. It gave me a ray of hope and filled me with optimism. I don’t think my non-smiling behavior is because of an attitudinal change. I think its because of my cramped muscles. Use-disuse theory in full effect right now. Just like how my leg muscles cramp up from just sitting my face muscles have cramped up from just staring at computer screens for 16 hours a day. I have reached the Web 4.0 equivalent of feelings where my mind produces a virtual smile in its recesses which ripples through to the computer screen directly without ever touching my face. HCI is at the core of this breakthrough innovation. Anyhow, I am relieved that this ailment has a cure too and will now promptly download the android app which will help me do face yoga every day.
This too shall pass.
I hope I don’t get into the Web 4.0 equivalent of doing face yoga (computer relaying direct to brain, and only my thoughts performing yoga and never reaching face) like I have with the rest of me.
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