It was a particularly chilly day. The passengers on the train kept to themselves, each lost in their thoughts swirling around in their busy heads. One man listened to the latest hits on his iPod, his head moving in rhythmic efficiency to the pop tunes playing into his earphones. A little boy clung to his mother, watching the other commuters, wide-eyed and curious. Yet another chap sat upright in his seat, browsing through his newspaper, obviously displeased with the news of war and terror staring him in the face.

She sat in the corner, reading a book, a novel by the looks of it. Her face revealed that she would be no older than 25. Suddenly, she threw her head back and laughed- a free, ringing, gorgeous peal of happiness that rent the staid atmosphere of the coach. Everyone looked up, startled by the unexpectedness of it all.

Realising the disruption, she looked up from the book, flashed an impish smile at them all and went back to the book. I could see the cover page now. It was P.G. Wodehouse’s ‘Summer Lightning’. A flash of joy rippled across my heart. No wonder she laughed out loud. I would have too!

Within minutes, the next station arrived and she rose from her place and swung her satchel over her back, clasping the book in her hand. Her face, though not striking, looked particularly bright to me. It was the laugh that had done it. It had broken the barrier of mundane solidity that gripped us all.

It was then that I saw it.

The back of the satchel. On it was embroidered the words, ‘ My name, Hassani, means ‘Laughter’ in Khmer. It is your birthright to smile, laugh and be happy. Let nobody tell you otherwise.’

With a smile and a wave at the coach in general, she was gone. And yet, she had left behind so much for everyone to savour.

©Shailaja V

Picture courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

I wrote this piece in response to this article that I read today, where the Turkish Deputy Prime Minister has declared that women should not laugh in public. You can read the article below as well as the Twitter response from thousands of Turkish Women.

Article about Turkish Deputy PM’s remarks

{On an unrelated note, this marks my 50th post on this blog! Yay!}

Linking this to the Yeah Write Moonshine Grid # 173