She stopped with the hint of a smile caressing the outer edges of her lips and said, “You are a very funny guy”. I smiled back, modestly but not without a touch of pride. I’ve always loved to make people laugh. It makes me glow from the inside whenever people crack up at something I’ve said. We look beautiful when we smile and laugh, when our lips open up and our shy teeth peer from behind them. It is like the first ray of sunshine peeking from behind the curtain of dawn. Yes, I’m going to repeat that adage again about how we need to laugh more often. Indeed, we should abandon ourselves to the sheer ecstatic delight of holding our stomachs and laughing our guts out. It is a both a physical and mental catharsis. We cleanse ourselves of every wrinkle of worry and every shadow of sorrow in the throes of that heavenly happiness.
My fingers automatically went to her lips as if wanting to hold the shape of that smile before it disappeared. It is something I find myself doing more and more frequently. Perhaps it is a reaction against the increasing artificiality in our lives, the forced smiles, the polite laughter, and the simple stretching of our facial muscles to mean something totally useless. How many times have we found ourselves feeling that strange pain after having gone through an entire evening just exercising our smile-muscles? Yes, the quest for natural laughter is the aim of my life and when I find it I want to hold it deep inside my heart, forever.
“But why didn’t you laugh?”, she asked. I smiled again and kept quiet. How could I answer her? They say that behind every comedian’s joke lies an immense story of sadness. Not that I’m some tragi-comic hero hiding deep sorrows behind my weird jokes. It is simply that along this journey to find true laughter I lost the ability to laugh. Strange isn’t it? But then stranger things have happened in life. Does it affect me? No, not at all. As long as I know that I can make people laugh I’m happy. Vicarious pleasure is all I ask for and all that keeps me going.
Someday I’ll find my laughter again. I know that for sure. Perhaps it is hiding under some rock on the shores of an ocean I haven’t seen. Or perhaps it is sleeping under the stars in a meadow filled with the sweet smell of spring flowers. Or maybe it is in the heart of a lover waiting for me to find her.
The announcement came over the speakers. “I’ve to catch my flight now”, I told her. She just smiled and shook my hands. I walked away towards the gate with the faint echoes of her laughter still tinkling in my ears and the perfume of her smile wafting through the air around me, enveloping me in its heady scent.