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“Tum Jiyo hazaro saal” is a song from Hindi movie Sujata, sung by who else? The great Asha Bhosle! The film had Nutan and Sunil Dutt in the lead roles. If one must use the idiom gay abandon, then this is the song sung by Asha Bhosle with real gay abandon. The meaning of this idiom is “In a happy and carefree way”. The way she has sung this song creates a happy feeling and maybe a thought process that we should also become a little carefree!
When we are growing up, obviously there is not much difference between a girl and boy child, except for the sexual difference; along with this difference accompany specific ways in which the girls and boys behave. Girls like to play with dolls and boys with cars. It is their inherent nature. But it is you and me who tell the girl child to become subdued; oh! You are a girl. I am ok with suggestions about the modesty aspect of it, as the world is full of complex situations and people. But in making them comply with the so-called modesty, many times we also kill the exuberance and vivaciousness in them. But this is only one side of the story. Even males become subdued as they grow. What is the reason for this? The change is because some people are born serious-minded; this creates thinking that we must become serious and subdued as we grow. We abandon the “Gay Abandon” attitude.
How many people are there in your life who laugh their heart out over a nice joke? Not many. Ok, you need not be too exuberant in the formal settings but on a personal level, why not? Why not do whatever you do, wholeheartedly? I will tell you something about the cultures of different communities. I am a Maharashtrian, and till my generation, the atmosphere in our homes was subdued most of the times. Dancing Maharashtrian was a myth. But during my daughter’s marriage, we had a musical program where the whole family danced. Did we dance? We danced with gay abandon for a couple of hours! Slowly this trend is seen in many families. As against this look at the Punjabis! They will dance at the drop of a hat, they will sing, they will enjoy life! We have extroverts or introverts, but the majority is introverted. The Britishers have a stiff upper lip. The South Indians, as a rule, are mild-mannered introverts.
What is the difference between a child and an adult? To start with the child has no inhibitions, so they enjoy things wholeheartedly. As we grow, we are supposed to become mature, steady and serious. People in their small groups may be a little more free with each other, but this behaviour is limited inside the closed walls. I will share an example of a Punjabi family. We were on holiday in Nainital, a few years back. We were having a cup of tea in the garden near a lake. A group of people came for a stay. As soon as they got down and saw us, they waved at us and said, “Sir, how are you? How long will you be here? Let us have fun.” Next evening when they came back after a fun-filled day, one of them came and said, “We got some lovely fish today. I will tell the cook to serve you the fish. I hope you eat non-vegetarian food!” Not many others will behave this way.
I have a theory for this. Punjabis who live on the western border of India have always faced the brunt of the attacks by the enemy for more than a thousand years. For them the life must have been so uncertain, they evolved into, what else, Punjabis! Why don’t all of us treat every day as a war like situation? Such thinking may make us boisterous and freewheeling like our friends from Punjab. Why do we think of rules and constraints all the time? I am not saying you break any laws or regulations but why not make yourself open! Take a dive in the water instead of dipping your toes!
I have seen my granddaughter Rhea growing up. She is 5 ½ years old. She is spirited; she has terrific ideas in her mind. We play games like a home, running a restaurant. She decides the role-playing characters. We have never prevented her from asking any questions; we have never told her to stop doing something. All this is always done within the framework for basic home rules. These rules include minimal screen time, finishing her food in the plate always and so on. But our discipline has never stopped her from laughing, dancing, sharing a joke. She treats us as if we are of similar age when we are playing games. As her understanding is increasing, she is turning into a pleasant personality! She is a happy, boisterous child.
People should do their work seriously but should not take themselves seriously. We don’t need to move around in the society with a poker face! Don’t forget that it is also a funny world, not everything is serious! The other day I was walking down the road and saw a person waiting for someone. In a hurry, he had put on a black shoe and a brown shoe! I pointed it out to him, and both of us had a great laugh. He quickly went home nearby and made amends. I could have ignored it; he could have got wild at me. But we both chose a better option, to enjoy!
We have become so serious in life that we have started “Laughter Clubs” in our society. Common causes for laughter are sensations of joy and humour. When many people join the laughter clubs, it indicates the malady in our society. You don’t laugh at anyone, but you can always laugh with someone. Nobody can stop you from laughing at yourself! One can always say, “What a fool am I?” and laugh it out.
A human being laughs when the feeling of joy and humour is generated in mind. But not all react the same way, that is the crux of the matter. You meet a friend after some time, why not give a big smile and bear hug! You feel it that way so why not display it? Why hold yourself back? You meet your ex after a long time. A lot of water has flown down the bridge. So why not enjoy the moment? After all, the person was your ex, and you have had a great time at some stage.
There are so many beautiful but small things in life that we miss them, we forget them in our journey called life! Years back, during my tottering days of blog writing, I had written a blog about “My favourite things”. We all have such lists, and I am sure my list will bring a smile on your face.
Let me assure you, the feeling of joy, living life with gay abandon are infectious things. Others around you will slowly change the way they react, and the world will become a better place. I had a neighbour a few years older than me. Whenever I would phone him and ask how he was, his answer would be, “It’s so hot (in summer)! Oh, it’s so wet ( in monsoon)! It’s so cold ( in winter)!” He was never happy. For me, summer means Mangoes and pre-monsoon rains. Monsoon means greenery everywhere starting with drenching in the first showers. Winter means sleeping a little more with blankets, and going for a pleasant walk decked in sweaters and scarves, after a hot cuppa!
It’s your mindset that decides the joys in your life. Some look at everything with dark glasses like my friend mentioned above. They can never live life in full and neither do they allow their near and dear ones to enjoy it.
Friends what I have said is beautifully captured in the French phrase Joie de vivre. The French phrase is often used in English to express a cheerful enjoyment of life; it is an exultation of spirit. It “can be a joy of conversation, joy of eating, joy of anything one might do… And joie de vivre may be seen as a joy of everything, an absolute joy, a philosophy of life. It involves one’s whole being.”