Why do you always laugh at my jokes, even when no one else does? I would ask. He would say that every joke deserves a laugh, even the bad ones. So you do agree my jokes are bad? I’d tease. Your joke can be bad, but the intention is always good. And your joke intends to spread laughs. This world needs to laugh more than it does. Every laugh is an opportunity to forget the agonies and to remember the brownies of being alive. I’ll rather not miss those brownies for the world, my dear.
I understood his need for laughter, but I never quite understood his philosophy. But if you laugh at the bad jokes, I told him, you take away the incentive from people to make good jokes. He looked at me like a mother looks at her newborn baby. There is an unflinching boldness in the eyes of the newborns when they look at the glaring but calm eyes of their mothers. In those eyes, they find their solace. He graciously smiled, gently rose to grab the glass of water from the centre table and then he tenderly spoke.
Can the air that is around me be any different from the one at the corner of this room? Can the water that is in my throat be any different from the one touching the rim of this glass? So how can two jokes from your mind be any different? Just like the air in this room is reminding me to breathe. Just like the water in this glass is reminding me to drink. Boy, your jokes remind me to laugh. And because I know that the air inside this room is breathable. And because I know that the water inside this glass is drinkable. I will always know your jokes are laughable because your intent is good. You just want to spread laughs. He told me, I want you to remember that there is no greater joy than the joy of spreading laughter. I’ll never think twice before laughing at your jokes, even the bad ones. I laughed.
There was a smile on his face when he died. As if the death cracked a joke before she took her away. I stood there with tears rolling down my cheeks, but the corners of my mouth were touching my earlobes, I was smiling. Because I could hear him saying through the whispers of the wind. This world needs to laugh more than it does.
PS: The inspirations for this short story (if I may take the liberty) came from my conversation with Simran Dhingra. This is an ode to all those who crack lame jokes in an attempt to spread laughs, but end up sucking instead. I want you to know (including myself), I will always laugh at your jokes.