Wednesday, 4 March 2009

On laughter

The toddler in the seat ahead of mine in the airplane laughs with pure joy. The sound possesses a rhythm and a flow and a memory. I recall neither Proust nor Kundera but that forgotten moment when laughter– abandoned and uninhibited– bound us together in an amorphous construct called family even as it set us all free. At least in that moment we were.

I scribble these words hastily while the pilot mumbles about altitude and speed or maybe he’s raising a toast to this and other such flights. But my mind is not quite focused on his words because I am distracted once again by laughter of two women in the row diagonally behind me. A quick turn in their direction furnishes the following details: female, around fifty, probably English, a little tipsy, going back home from an all women trek around Annapurna. The last bit I glean from the emblem on their T-shirts. But one cannot trust these conclusions I make for I am no good at such deductions and am often off the mark as far as age, height, and nationality are concerned. It is gender that I generally get right.

But there is still a good 7 hours to go and I try to obliterate all thoughts of the present and of the recent past from my mind. Of the long gone past I hardly have any concrete memories. And before I can complete that thought there is more laughter from diagonally across followed by more giggles from the front.

After 8 hours enclosed in a narrow steel tube, I gladly escape, and not a moment too soon from the manacles of laughter. Suffocating and all consuming.

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