To be honest, a lot of my school teachers are just a blur in my mind. While I hold the deepest respect for them, most of them are not really a part of my memory. But Ms Darasha is. She was not only the principal of my school (J. B. Petit) but she also taught us some very important aspects of life. I used to look forward to our assemblies because after most of the boring, routine announcements were made, Ms Darasha would take the mic in her hand, and there would be fireworks.
I clearly remember one of the sessions that she took for us post an April fools Day. It seemed one of the senior classes had taken the joke too far and had created such a havoc in a classroom with a new teacher, that the teacher had submitted her resignation. The mood was sombre and since the entire school had already heard of this incident through the grapevine, we suspected the assembly that day would have more fire than fire works.
In her loud booming voice Ms Darasha started speaking. Instead of telling the students that they were wrong – she began by explaining that there is a difference between laughing WITH and laughing AT. She said when you laugh with someone, it is great as they are a part of the joke and they too are finding it funny. This kind of laughing leads to joy, bonding and relaxation.
However, she said – there was also another kind of joking: Laughing AT which was neither funny nor brought happiness. Laughing AT was nothing but ragging, teasing or putting someone through a joke, or situation that they do not really want to be a part of. Laughing AT leads to unhappiness, a feeling of victimization and fear.
There was pin drop silence as she continued and I could sense that her words were going deep within all of us. The senior grade who was responsible for the mess looked uncomfortable, unhappy and thoughtful. Ms Darasha continued and told us to always make the discretion – are we laughing with, or we laughing at…
Today years later, I continue to be someone who laughs a lot. I believe laughter should be an important part of our lives. Most of the times it is laughing with – sometimes when it tilts to laughing at, I immediately correct myself. I would not want to be laughed at – so I certainly would not want to put someone else through it either.
What are your thoughts – and plans for this April Fool’s Day? Laughing with, or laughing at?
April Fool’s Day is a license, a license to do all things exciting which could on other days land me in trouble.
When I think of a few of the things I have done so far, through the year, my most joyous experience was when I sent my friend in school to the Principal's room saying she intended to throw him out of the school. Of course he isn’t my friend anymore (Just kidding). There was also this time when I told my dad my younger sis had just thrown his IPhone out of the balcony, and he went screaming to the balcony. What happened after that is something I don’t wish to recall. Something else that I thought was very funny was when I told the guard of a fine dine restaurant that one of their customers was stuck in the lift. Or the time in the school cafeteria when I quietly moved the pizza from my friend’s plate and placed it in another friend’s plate. And they ended up having a fight over a piece of pizza.
Of course, people around me don’t always see the joke, they could do with a little more sense of humour surely. And it does take a lot of smart and creative thinking to come up with these ways to have fun. Playing harmless pranks is a skill and it should be a part of the course syllabus in school, to encourage creative thinking and to make people smile.
Till that happens, we have the April Fool’s Day, so that the serious grown up folks around us smile a little more, appreciate the harmless pranks, and experience the fun that I have, doing these little things, right through the year.