Sindhi Sense of Humour
By Arun Babani
Artist and cartoonist Mr. Sunder Agnani, has brought out a collection of cartoons around Sindhi writers, titled ‘Adeeban Khe Aadaab’ (Saluting the Sindhi Writer). The cartoons speak of the idiosyncrasies of the writers, numbering 36, and are a playful insight into their minds.
One fine morning Mr. Kirat Babani, editor of monthly publications ‘Sindh Rises’ and ‘Sindh Sujag’, had, what he considered a bright idea. He wrote to all these 36 sahitkars to, “Please write a light hearted self-portrait of yourself, so that we can start a series of such life sketches, accompanied by Mr. Agnani’s cartoons in the Sindhi publication. The feature running every month for 36 months will then be brought out in the form of a collection, as a book.”
So far so good. Then what happened? Two weeks later, replies of “No thank you” kept trickling in. Here we concluded, or rather reminded ourselves once again that Sindhi and humour don’t go together! To write, in a public space, some light hearted, humorous and sporting piece on oneself, requires, first of all a joyous intelligence with a capacity to objectively assess your life and contribution to the community, along with a certain sense of humour to play a joke upon oneself, or to seriously laugh upon oneself. This feat is for lions, not for Sindhi writers!
A look at the general human sense of humour would show that this sense is often not brought into play in public as well as private life of people. Indians by and large are a serious community, and Sindhis in particular have almost no sense of humour. A young man in Ulhasnagar was telling us “the Sindhis are so serious and drab that they think and calculate about every little thing. Even about a small gift you take to them, they will seriously calculate about its cost, what should be returned, and so on.”
Should we again refer to the partition to explain this? I doubt. Displacement and rootlessness necessarily does’nt make people damp and dull. In fact, in some cases, having been used to struggle makes a person vital and bright, instead of taking away his laughter. Why then, so often does a hearty childhood turn into a dry adulthood? Partly it is due to serious struggles of life, but mostly it’s the ‘Ego’. A person with an inflated sense of self importance usually forgets to smile. He is too proud to feel any joy and laughter. Osho would call seriousness a sickness, and said that the only way you can judge that a person is healthy is from the way he laughs!
So, is a Sindhi too proud and egoistic, with an unbalanced sense of self image? Of course Sindhis are known to be a serious community where one finds a lot of Dharam Karam, Paath Pooja, religious rituals, but when it comes to enjoying, laughing, which is a childlike streak; they are too serious for that. Is it any wonder that the founder of ‘Laughers Club” is a Sindhi? Indeed he must have seen the serious streak, and like a true doctor set up a cure line. We wish Dr. Kataria a heavy shower of good wishes for making Sindhis a laughing, dancing and joyous community.