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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sarcasm


Off late I have been enjoying The Big Bang Theory. And the character which appeals the most to me is Sheldon. The high IQ part, love of Physics and know all attitude apart, another similarity which I find with the character, is our innocence when it comes to decoding Sarcasm.
For a very long time I was in the dark as to what the word SARCASM meant itself. I first came across the term in my 6th standard when while reading a writer’s biopic, came a sentence, “He was a master of sarcasm.” Sarcasm? What was that? An average student would have either asked the teacher what it meant or better still just not bother about it as he didn’t bother about the other things that he didn’t understand. But, I thought I’ll look it up in the dictionary when I reach home. Then in the Geography lecture that followed, the teacher spoke about SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation). Being the analytical and inquisitive mind that I was since a tender age I figured out that in English all religions end with ‘ism’. For eg., Jainism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Zorostrianism and so on. So, SARCASM was the RELIGION OF THE SAARC PEOPLE. I didn’t discuss this with anyone, wanting to selfishly hoard the knowledge to myself as many of my colleagues still do.
Then I entered medicine. This field has been a life changer for me in more ways than one. In medicine I learnt that anything that ends with an ‘asm’ is a disease. Eg., spasm, neoplasm etc. So, when I was the Editor-in-Chief of the Medical College Magazine last year and some of the members on the editorial board suggested that we add a section on Sarcasm in the magazine, I realised that in the light of the recent advances in vocabulary, as sarcasm has an ‘asm’ not ‘ism’ it is a disease and as almost everyone that you see at in my college is into some or the other research, perhaps they had researched into sarcasm and wanted to publish their findings. OK, I said. Why not? This also cleared my long lasting doubt as to what ‘being sarcastic’ was. I always felt bad, that despite trying to search for literature on the Practices and Believes of Sarcasm and finding none, people easily used phrases such as ‘stop behaving sarcastic’, ‘very sarcastic’ etc. How did they know so much about the concepts of Sarcasm, a long lost religion when it wasn’t even being taught in school or preached somewhere? Now, if I were to consider Sarcasm as a disease, then being Sarcastic made sense, just as being spastic made sense. That writer that I had read about was a biologist who had researched on sarcasm and also written some novels, like most of us nowadays. (I thought it was related to sarcoidosis)
Just by the way, when Baba Ramdev was enjoying his claim to fame, for a short time I also believed that Sarcasm was described in Yoga as Sarc-Aasan, and when I had gone on a tour to South India, I thought Sarcasm was a Mallu delicacy like Rasam, Uttapam, Payappam, Prasadam etc. etc.
So, we had a full section dedicated to sarcasm and my editors handpicked the articles for the section. And when the book was released, a large chunk of people came complaining, ‘There is no sarcasm in sarcasm.’ A couple of contributors even came and said, ‘Jayesh, how could you put my article in sarcasm. It was intended for philosophy, not sarcasm!’ To this my standard reply would be, “I know. Even I didn’t find anything in your article sarcastic, but the editors made the choices.” I mean they were not research papers, but the editors would have labelled me a dictator if I had objected to this decision of theirs.
But, the final nail in the coffin came last week and my eyes opened and I finally got down opening the dictionary and looking up what sarcasm actually meant. I’ll describe the chain of events for you. There is this old foe turned friend in college. Old foe, because we were competitors in 12th and she wouldn’t be particularly happy on seeing my usually delirious devilish demeanour (I know because she was quite vocal about it then as she is now), turned friend, because as luck would have it, we were batch mates in the first year and she sort of relied on me to pass her exams. Not that I showed her my papers, but she somehow managed to take a peek into them anyway. So, old foe, you can’t trust. She would encourage me to write about people in our college and comment on all the gossip that was going on. While at the same time, she went about bhadkaoing all those people and uksaoing them to slap me,  until a weak hearted human being finally fell for the temptation last week. As I walked into her and a common friend to whom a blog has been dedicated, she declared to me what she was doing all these years when I considered her a friend and even before I could say anything, I had five fingers imprinted on my left cheek, courtesy the other friend as he declared, “Jayesh, how could you have written such things about me.” One more had come up to the Gymkhana the other day, in a manner that was quite reminiscent of those movies of 70s & 80s when the hero (usually Dharmendra) would enter into the villain’s den, unarmed and alone, shout “Kutte-kamine, maa ka doodh piya hai to bahar nikal”, tell him a few things right-left and centre, enrage him, then about 2000 strong fauj of the villain, with fully loaded guns and grenades would attack him, and with a few acrobatic skills and a fighting technique with sound effects of ‘bhishum bhishum’ would kill them all and leave, his anger avenged. Luckily, this time no one got killed, but he did speak to me requesting me “to stop this non sense”, in some not so polite words. The next day onward, I decided to be a little careful about what I commented. So, while I usually am very straight faced and do not hold myself back even while making nasty comments, and refrain from saying polite things as a rule, I toned down a bit and commented “Nice photo” on the profile pic of one of my friends. I expected the reply would be, “Thank you JAYESH”. Instead I got, “Are you being sarcastic?”
This is what people have begun to think of me. Even Anu Kapoor calls me a ‘Sarcastic sperm’ now. 
Just think, if every discussion is to be viewed sarcastically the following exchange of little sweet nothings that I heard while I was sneaking up on the lovebirds in my college will have a completely different meaning,
Girl:  Do you love me?
Boy: Yes. Yes, I love you.
Girl: How much?
Boy: I cannot tell you.
Girl: Till when will you love me?
Boy: Till death do us apart.
Girl: What will you do if I die? (Didn’t you hear, he said the love lasts only till death do you apart.)
Boy: I will go mad. (Seriously???)
Girl: You love only me?
Boy: Yes, only you. And no one else. Tumhari Qassam! (Take the hint lady!)
Girl: When will I meet your mother?
Boy: There is no need. I have told her I will bring home the girl of my choice.
Girl: What do you like about me?
Boy: Nothing in particular, everything in general. Ask me if there is something I do not like about you.
Girl: If an apsara came down and offered you all the wealth in the world, will you leave me for her?
Boy: Leave you. For her????? Never.
Girl: What do I have that an apsara does not have?
The further conversation took a course that is not suitable for a blog meant for family viewing.
I have always been truthful about my opinion. After hunting down Chinkaras and getting drunk and running their cars over poor people sleeping on pavements, don’t you forgive people in the name of Being Human? I have always called smart people smart without intending it to mean dumb. Is it my fault, if you read too much in between the lines and think about yourself the other way round? Anyway, if ever you have felt about yourself that way after reading my blog, intentionally or unintentionally, I apologise. Please forgive me.


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