I am in total admiration of those among us who can laugh at themselves. To me it shows the highest level of confidence and an innate strength of character. It is easy to laugh at other people and most of us are guilty of having done so at some point of our lives. But to be able to laugh at one’s own folly or mistakes needs some kind of effort but it is not impossible if one tries. But to be able to laugh when one is being put down knowingly or unknowingly is altogether a different thing. And to do it without malice or ill feeling makes it all the more worthy. My colleague Dr. R. S. did just that.
Dr.R.... is an extraordinary person, in full command of her subject and quite capable of taking up any kind of responsibility at home as well as in the college. She is popular among her students and in general an asset to the college and her family. Her family is religiously oriented and her husband can trust her to take care of the innumerable pujas and ceremonies that are regularly performed from time to time in their house. Domestic help being unreliable, she took it on herself to sweep the portico and the entrance early in the morning and to decorate the entrance with beautiful rangolis before daybreak as is the custom in most south Indian homes. She would then clean up the kitchen and the prayer room so that she could begin the day’s chore after taking her bath. It was natural that she disposed the garbage instead of waiting for the servant to do it. There was also no point waiting for the servant who came around eight in the morning by which time her husband would have left home for work. While doing all this work she happened to see a girl working for her neighbor and since the girl’s timings suited her she decided to ask if she would work for her.
Broom in hand and holding a bucket of water she called out.
“Hey, you , are you free to work here?”
The girl stopped.
“Work where?” she asked.
“Here” said Dr. R… pointing to her bungalow.
“Why do you ask me” the girl replied “Do you plan to quit?”
R….. just could not control her laughter. She threw the broom away and holding her stomach she laughed to her heart’s content while the poor servant girl could not make out what was so funny in what she had asked.
“Oh no!!” said R…. I couldn’t have quit even if I wanted to. Mine is a permanent post. I only want you to help me if you are free to come early in the morning.”
The girl was confused.
“Will the mistress hire a second servant?” she innocently asked thereby sending R…. into a second spell of uncontrollable laughter.
We do not know if the girl was finally hired or not but we do know that Dr. R…. enjoyed repeating the story to all her friends in college making us laugh our lungs out and filling us with renewed admiration for her.