Laugh Out Loud

Everyone knows that laughter is supposed to be the best medicine but do we really seize the opportunity when it presents itself?

There is a time for sadness and a time for laughter and when the latter is here, we have to really grab it, never mind even if we split our sides in the process.

When I was younger and there was something funny happening, I would be in stitches and my late mum (we were like ‘caleson-simiz’) would say, you certainly know how to laugh. And my answer was: ‘Ma, laughter doesn’t come everyday. Most of the time people have to face so many problems, be it pain, grief, no job, no money, no food, do you think they feel like laughing then? But when you can afford to laugh, give it all you can.’ Years later, my health went downhill and laughter went out through the window.

Now, I’ve got my life back on track again, but a particular incident that happened many years ago always makes me laugh. When I was in Helvetia after work, one summer afternoon, I was making my way towards the nurses’ quarters when I noticed an elderly man, maybe in his eighties, sitting on a bench. As was the custom then, to whoever you met on that stretch of road you have to say: ‘Salut, Bonjour, Bonsoir… Bon après-midi,’ otherwise it was considered bad manners.

We greeted each other, and he said: ‘Je vois que vous etes étrangère, d’où venez-vous? Ile Maurice?’ He spoke of his two sons who had Mauritian penfriends but that fizzled out. After a lot of blah blah, he said: ‘Vous avez de la couleur, j’aime bien les gens qui ont de la couleur…’ meaning my tan. ‘Ah oui.’ Still very politely, he said: ‘Mademoiselle, vous savez ce que j’aimerai faire avec vous?’

I was taken aback and said: ‘Et ç’est quoi, car j’ai aucune idée?’ Very softly, he replied: ‘Mademoiselle, j’aimerai vous emmener dîner.’ Phew! And to think that I thought he was a perv and that he was going to make an indecent proposition. That incident taught me a lesson: never jump to conclusions when someone is saying something, let them finish first.

The Swiss people are a very civilized nation. They don’t pounce on people like others do and speak with a lot of respect. No, I didn’t go for that dinner but as it was summer, he would come and sit on that bench like the other elderly people in that area. The countryside was breathtaking.

When I tell my friends about this incident, I laugh more than I talk. And please never suppress you laughter.

* * *

Let me share with you these few lines, which I hope will bring a smile to your face. An Irish teacher was teaching a class of 11-year-olds and he promised a €5 reward to the pupil who could give him the right answer as to the greatest man that ever lived.

One said Winston Churchill, another Abraham Lincoln and a third said Mahatma Gandhi, while a little Jewish voice at the back shouted St Patrick (he is the patron Saint of Ireland). The teacher was as pleased as punch, he gave the lad his reward and said: ‘Well done, my boy, but tell me how did you guess the right answer?’

The lad replied: ‘Sir, from the very depth of my heart I knew it was Moses, but business is business.’

* Published in print edition on 8 November 2013

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