Two  Sides  of The Same

Coin: Tragedy or Comedy

By Someswar Bhagwat

Nostalgia is a very strong emotion of recalling, with pleasure often, things long past. The older you get, the more you have of it. After all aging gives you years of experience and all of them leave behind memories. If wise, you will learn lessons from every failure and obstacle you faced and if otherwise, suffer with regret and remorse. Time may be a great healer of wounds but it does leave scars.

A nostalgic memory may be of the famous song from Raj Kapoor’s biggest flop Mera Naam Joker: ‘Jaane kaha gaye wo din’. Though painful for him, the memory may be bitter-sweet for most.

A motivational speech says learn to live in today’s world, as the past cannot be changed and the future cannot be predicted. No claim of knowing the future can be authentic, as it may only be a guesswork or the result of mind reading to find out what you want. To predict that what is desired will come true will make anyone happy. It may win the predictor a good reward.

Why would anyone who knows the future sit on a roadside to predict your tomorrow for a pittance? One such roadside astrologer was asked by a man to predict whether he would be paid or not. The man testing him may do the exact opposite of what is predicted and prove him wrong.

He faced a predicament but beggars not being choosers could not adopt the trick of the doctor whose patient who told him his ailment was that he forgot things immediately. One joke said the doctor asked him how long he had this problem, only to be asked by the patient, “What problem?” Another version of the joke is: the doctor told him to pay the fees first before he prescribed a medicine. That is no joke: most big commercial hospitals insist of being paid the ‘consultancy fees’ in advance. Is it knowledge that it was not possible to know what would happen next – whether the patient would survive long enough to pay –  or lack of confidence of the doctor who does not know the right cure? It is for you to decide.

But a joke cannot say: then what happened? It does not remain a joke any more. Like the time a motorcycle driver boasted to his pillion-riding wife  of his driving skills. When he saw a truck coming from the opposite side with full-beam headlights (as they do in India): “See there are two motorcycles  coming; I will drive between the two.” That was a joke; but if you ask ‘then what happened?’ the comedy turns into a tragedy.

The line demarcating comedy and tragedy is often thin. A famous Telugu film-maker said, when asked whether his film was a tragedy or comedy “If it makes money it is a comedy, if it flops it is a tragedy”.  Indians normally don’t like tragedies (as it is a tragic life they want to escape from, in a cinema hall). So one film maker’s life became a tragedy when he made a film in which the daughter-in-law is thrown out of the house and dies (as is common in India).

So he released the same film again with another end, ‘shot’ in advance in anticipation. The daughter-in-law knocks her head on the door and instead of it falling on her as before, the new ending has it fall on the other side – on the mother-in-law,  who duly dies under the falling door. So the door falling on one side makes it a tragedy and a comedy if it falls on the other. Given the standard of construction today (at least of government Housing Board houses), it is bound to fall on either side.

And which side it would fall cannot be predicted. Even by an astrologer.



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