Thursday, August 07, 2008

Comedy of Tragedy

Not many people have heard of masochism. Most of us are masochistic but not many know there is a word in English language to actually describe this medical disorder.

Well. Masochism is the opposite of sadism. Or reciprocal of sadism … be more appropriate.

A sadist derives pleasure from other peoples’ suffering.
A masochist derives pleasure out of one’s own suffering. You may ask how?
Just look at the many many people around who never tire of recounting all the pain, agony, sorrow, suffering, misery, wretchedness, distress and grief they have gone through in their life.

Pick a bunch of them and put them together in a room for some camaraderie. They will, with their exaggerated narrations and astonishing details, create vivid imagery of their misery in your mind. Each one claims “Nothing like my suffering!”, “Your story is nothing compared to mine!” To an onlooker, it would seem that a competition is going on. But even after four or five hours, no consensus has been reached as to who the most miserable is! They are not only proud of their grief but seem to immensely treasure the memories of unhappy days.

I have an aunt like that. She does not care who she is with, where she is or what the occasion. She has to only find a person who has shown the slightest interest in her and that’s it. She starts her story. Wedding hall, birthday party, dinner gathering, someone’s death… none of the occasions have been spared. She will not stop until she has brought one or two tears in the eyes of her victim. And then as if motivated by the listener’s reaction she goes on to bring more and more tears by unfolding the climax. She has also kept a count of how many people till date have wept upon listening to her story. They are the feathers in her cap. She thinks it’s cool to be a tragedy queen. Meena Kumari! Are you listening? You have competition! (Meena Kumari was a Bollywood actress of yesteryears. All she did in all her movies was cry, cry and cry.)

By now most of us in the first circle know of her only hobby. Whenever we bump into her, we say our quick greetings and disappear, not committing the mistake of sitting or standing next to her for longer than ten seconds. But there are always people from the second circle. And then there are people who have just been introduced to her. These are the unsuspecting victims. When we see them anywhere within twenty feet of radius of her for longer than twenty minutes, we know they have been trapped. Beyond escape.

If you collate all the tragic incidents in her life and apply simple mathematics to calculate her age, you would be shocked. 156 years! This is impossible unless she is the “Ba” in Kyon Ki Saans Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi. I don’t know how many of those experiences are her own and how many, borrowed or stolen from others. Plagiarism is everywhere. You should copyright your tragedies. You don’t know who is out to steal them.

Does she finally stop after making you all wet? No. She goes on to becoming philosophical too. Now, tragedy combined with philosophy can be a deadly combination. Again, simple arithmetic can explain this. Tragedy + Philosophy = Irreversible Cynicism.
She will try to convince you that the world is a very sad place. Even if you tell her that you are very happy and content in life, she will coax you into believing that your happiness is only an illusion. If you tell her that you are in the pink of health, she will remind you of all the ailments one has to go through during old age. She tries to convert you into a cynic.
She uses various lines to substantiate “Everybody has to die someday”, “Nothing is permanent in this world”, “Man proposes, God disposes”… and so on. God! This is worse than someone trying to convert your religion.

Sorrows shared, sorrows halved. Yes. True. But the guy who wrote this was obviously oblivious to the disastrous misinterpretations that could be made. He should have added a clause. Please share only with one person or two. Not the entire population!
No where else has specificity seemed more necessary than here.

Another saying - Lend a listening ear. I like this one for being more specific. Lend a listening ear. I can. But since they did not ask me to lend both my ears, I will lend only one. Give a shoulder to cry on. I will. But what do I do when someone is not satisfied with the shoulder alone and wants to drench my whole body with Tsunami?
Excuse me please!

When I was a child I wasted a lot of time becoming deeply involved in the stories of these aunts and getting my eyes all wet. Now, after many years of repetitions of the same exaggerated stories and endless enactment of the same melodrama, I have grown up to understand that it is not at all cruel to enjoy what I now call “The comedy of tragedy”.


Kanishka said...

The masochist pleaded "Whip me".
The sadist smiled and said.... "No"

Sowmya said...

good one kanishka... :)

Niva said...

lol this post made me laugh out loud... a comedy character can easily be made in a movie out of the character you have described ... :P

Sowmya said...

Thanks Niva... I needed this comment...

I have always had doubts about my ability to make people laugh. Humour is not my strong point...

I am relieved to know that someone laughed aloud...