US

The last laugh

December 8, 2017
By Adil Ali

Well gentlemen, here’s the thing, you are a few months into your marriage, and one day your beautiful wife is gonna

GOLD

A community laughter club, somewhere in Karachi; Tuesday, 11:15 PM

“Well gentlemen, here’s the thing, you are a few months into your marriage, and one day your beautiful wife is gonna come to you with that classic ‘Devdaas’ face and say:

“Promise me one thing.”

You’ll be like, “Sure, anything.”

“Never, ever lie to me.”

“Of course honey, anything for you”

....... And that’s the first time you’ll lie to her.”

(Tumultuous laughter and cheering)

Clifton Housing Society, Karachi; half an hour later

“Riddle me this,” my mother finally exploded, “You’re a bright kid; you’ve got 92% in your F.Sc exams. So - ”

“So I’ll be violating the Constitution of Pakistan if I don’t become a doctor, right?”

“What good will these grades do to you if you end up becoming a joker?”

“It’s called stand-up comedy, Ma. Google it, please.”

“Fancy terminologies won’t change what it actually is. Cracking absurd jokes in front of a half-drunk audience. Meray Allah, where is our generation headed?”

“Towards annihilation, of course. Thank the heavens that you were born in the 1970s.”

“Don’t you start ....”

“You know what’s the best way to end this futile session? Me leaving the table.”

I rose and stormed towards my room, realized halfway that I had left my QMobile on the table, walked back with an air of unconcern, picked it up, dropped it, picked it up again and went upstairs to my humble abode.

********

Five minutes later

Salam Diary,

Today I reach the conclusion that one thing, yeah, one thing rules the modern world: irony. From presidential speeches to educational systems to child counseling, it is as if the entire humanity breathes irony instead of oxygen.

From the day conscience comes through the threshold of our brains, a parental statement becomes a component of our auditory pathway:

“Beta, you can become whatever you want, we will always be by your side.”

Little does the innocent kid know that following is the definition of ‘whatever’ in our parents’ Oxford Dictionary: Doctor, engineer, taking care of the family business ... or whatever we tell you to do.

That’s where I would like to introduce the term ‘generation gap’, the fundamental cause of the civil war between parents and their ‘rebel’ teens.

You know what, nowadays everyone pretends to be the Chamber of Absolute Wisdom, claiming to understand the deepest human cognition and the mysteries of the cosmos; their source? Inflated ego. I honestly want to ... hold on; mom’s coming upstairs. I better start cramming the ‘fascinating’ characteristics of Phylum Echinodermata, know why? Because I AM GONNA BE A DOCTOR! (and after that, a dead man due to drug overdose :p)

********

The same club; Wednesday, 11:16 PM

“So, my mutilated friends, do you know the professional ladder our society follows?

Doctor, engineer, lawyer, hundreds of job, Al-Qaeda........then comedian.”

(Roars of laughter)

“That was a good one, buddy.”

********

Clifton Housing Society, half an hour later

“Well, here’s why Ma, it’s what I love doing! Period. AND I DON’T WANNA BECOME A DOCTOR! DOUBLE PERIOD.”

A pregnant silence.

“You are a disappointment,” was all she finally said.

More silence.

“Listen, uh, I am going to attend this Comedy Festival in Lahore this Friday. A lot of big names are going to be there, it could be a game-changer for me. Khattak and Gondal will be with me, everything’s arranged so, uh, we’ll be fine.” I start towards my room. “And don’t try to talk me out of this one, please.”

********

The streets of Karachi, about an hour later

“Why are we having a walk at around 1 am in the morning Dad, enlighten my soul.”

“Just wanted to talk to you, beta.”

“And is there a specific spell on our home that prevents us from having a conversation after midnight?”

“Didn’t want your mom to know.”

“Oh, so there is a spell.”

We walked past a graffiti-riddled wall. I could only make out two words: ‘YOLO’ and ‘KHAPPAY’.

“I heard from your friends that you’re pretty good, the folks love watching you perform.”

“Yeah, well, uh, it’s a small crowd, but, uh, I get the most laughs.”

“And there’s nothing, like absolutely nothing we can do to change that mind of yours.”

“I’m sorry Dad, but ... no.”

Another graffiti: ‘BURGER-E-KARACHI.’

“I’ll make this short then. You go to this festival in Lahore, if you make some waves, you can continue with your linguistic tricks; however, you fail, you quit, once and for all.”

We stopped near a deserted playground. I had never observed the City of Lights when it was nearly asleep ( well, I never had a walk at 1 AM before) ,and for some bizarre reason, I had always thought that it was immune to silence but there it was, and my sensory pathways, not being accustomed, took some time to acknowledge its presence. And then I felt something else, something much more colossal, but silent still: time. I felt every moment I spent there fading, fading into eternal oblivion, never to come back again, ever.

“Time.” I whispered to myself and smiled a little.

********

Somewhere in the airspace of Pakistan, Friday, 4:17 PM

Yo Diary,

As of this moment, I am changing your name from ‘Diary’ to ‘Emotional and Intellectual Deposit.’ You know, when I was leaving today, mom’s reaction was predictable, as always: not saying a single word but one look at her eyes and boom....there it was, a unique amalgam of anger and concern garnished with sadness. I love her.

Dad was pretty cool, predictable again and I know back home everyone’s giving charity and praying, hoping to invite divine assistance so that I fail dramatically but hey, I am a Capricorn, that’s not gonna stop me.

Well, I better revise my script now. We’ll be landing soon. Let’s see what Lahore has in store for me.

Ciao!