“Kindness and a generous spirit go a long way. And a sense of humor. It’s like medicine-very healing”— Maximilian Paul Diarmuid Irons, an English-Irish actor and model. Born in 1985
Having written a lot of serious stuff I thought it was time to experiment with some humour and satire. After all, as aptly said by the late Langstone Hughes, an American poet, novelist, playwright, columnist and social activist: “Like a welcome summer rain, humor may suddenly cleanse and cool the earth, the air and you.”
The world today is fraught with untold misery that one imagines if there is any moral scope left for a hearty laugh yet sometimes the naughty imp inside our souls seems to tickle us in a way that makes the sullen, joyful in no time. There are plenty of comical moments as well as things around us to satisfy these urges but in most of the cases and especially when cracking jokes, it can be hurtful to laugh on other people’s stupidity or where there are elements of social and racial biases. Perhaps the most enjoyable times are the funny stories we read in solitude and break the silence with frequent chuckling sounds and perhaps the best humour comes from making our own selves the principal targets.
As a keen observer of social events, there are many occasions where things said and done may invoke a frown, a raised eyebrow, a smile or even a smirk. These may involve different people and any resemblance to someone in real life would be purely incidental and not meant to be directed against them. Without offence to anyone, a few situations that may seem interesting are being penned for the sake of enjoyment.
These days there is a lot of emphasis on brands which in the last few years have become status symbols for reasons best known to God knows whom. Many, proudly flaunt their clothes and accessories purchased from high end retail outlets. For a few moments their position is that of someone floating in the clouds hoping that the onlookers would be dumbstruck with their mouths and eyes wide open, which they would gladly ignore with a sneer and nose in the air. Aah! With this, the pinnacle of fashion and glamour successfully achieved! So, while the star designers thrive on the ‘innocence’ of their enthusiastic customers, the less fortunate, squander money on their replicas deriving immense satisfaction from beating the odds. Of course the comic tale of mega sales is not hidden from anyone where the end result is chunks of hair on the floor after tugs of war over most sought-after items.
One yardstick to measure the social status of a person today is….no no…..not his intellect, not his benevolence, not his truthfulness but….the car he owns. Yes Sir. A brainless emerging from a Porsche is greeted with profound warmth compared to one coming out of a second hand vehicle. An official over-seeing construction of a highway admitted that he was able to exercise better control over workers when he switched from a Suzuki to a brand new shining Toyota SUV. A well-reputed lawyer’s friend earnestly suggested that he should commute in a uniformed chauffeur-driven high class BMW as that suited his stature and not a common brand. Thumbs up for the advice!
Other issues of prime importance that have taken our society off its feet are all those wedding ceremonies without which festivities remain “Oh so boring!” One wonders the need for such a lot of rituals only because a boy and a girl are about to sign a contract to spend their lives together? Such a lot of fanfare and such money loss for the sake of two persons who may or may not actually abide by this agreement in the future! The need to have expensive weddings, the preparations for which begin at the birth of a girl child is quite mind-boggling yet it has been seen that parents are willing to go to any extent just to make the D-day glamorous and awe-inspiring although the invitees are least bothered to give credit for the food and fun. Rather, most wagging tongues are more concerned with scrutinizing arrangements and the bride’s costume when not eyeing prospective brides and grooms for their children. Those who cannot afford a lavish wedding for their dear ones beg or borrow for either dowry or food for the attendees (barati to be more precise). One troublesome feature of the weddings is the mischievous relative who suddenly remembers his importance and opts to put on a gloomy attitude to be mollified by relatives eager to ensure his presence in all the events.
Last but not the least, is the appearance of the to-be-wed couple. Now both the girl and the boy have to pass through a series of expensive salon treatments to look their best in addition to the final make-up session before embarking on their nuptial scene. In the past there were just two days when the bride was elaborately dressed up but these days, she has to visit the beauty parlour for all the preliminary occasions including mayun, mehndi, nikah (if done beforehand) other than of course the shadi and valima.. Whew! What a waste of money for the temporary masks that withstand only a few hours of photo-shoots, and how profitable for the beauty experts!
Besides being painted a femme fatale, the bride’s dress and jewellery also have to be the most unique. Who cares what the cost is! From a minimum price of Rs. 30,000, this could reach a glaring amount of Rs. 700,000 or even more depending on one’s social status and capacity to purchase. In addition, the wedding stage has to be decorated to match the bride’s attire—this time benefits go to the event organizers. According to a conservative estimate the money spent on an average Pakistani wedding is enough to cater for the marriage of at least ten poor girls but why even mention the destitute in a mood of jubilation. Bah! They are just there to ward off the evil eye, not to be cared about.
In general, our society has deviated from simplicity to complexity but this transformation has not been without its share of comical paradoxes well reflected in the antics of those members who are draped with hypocrisy and superficiality but unfortunately this impropriety has permeated in the masses, thanks to the ostentatious display of wealth by a few.
The writer, lawyer and author, is an Adjunct Faculty at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS)