Smile – Is it really that hard?

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Did you smile today?
I was sitting in a science class in my school. I was usually a backbencher and was sitting in last or 2nd last row of benches. As usual, I was not listening to the teacher; either completely lost in some other thoughts or just simply blank. Suddenly, I hear a shout, “Hey you, why are you smiling?”. I was not sure to whom it is addressed. I looked right and left and noticed that others were also doing the same, but mostly looking at me. Next shout from the teacher confirmed that it is me he is referring to. “Have I said something funny?” was his next question. “No sir”, I replied. Then why are you smiling and disturbing the class. I had no clue if the class was disturbed from my smiling. I did not know why I was smiling either. I was simply smiling. My teacher was furious. He thought I was making joke of him. When I repeated it just a normal expression and was no way related to his teaching, he asked, “Are you mad?”. Now this had me in shock. I had no clue why smiling was such a bad thing. I was expelled out of the class. Next time, I was asked to stand in the class, another time on the bench. Once, he got so frustrated, that he arranged with other teachers that I keep on standing throughout the day. This was simply beyond my understanding. A simple smile, it does not do any harm to anybody. But for some reason I was being punished for it. My class fellow told the teacher later on that he is not smiling because of you, but this is how he looks. He kept my name “Hasmukh”; smiley face. Finally teacher got fed up and he stopped his punishments.  However, I think it had an impact on my smile, it either became little subdued or start to had unconscious feeling that I am doing something bad by smiling.
Smile smile smile 
Now such is our world. We keep on telling strange thing to kids. Our whole effort is to condition innocent kids in a way the way we would like to see them. Not the way they would like to be. But this is a big topic in itself.  I will keep the topic focuses on the simple and beautiful expression of smiling. After many years since the above incident, I had a chance to be in Toronto, Canada. It was for the 1st time that I was out of my country. Now Toronto is a place, which his surrounded by localities from various countries. One the west, one can find localities of Indians and Pakistanis, one North it is full of Chinese and Asians, on the east one can find Africa/South America e.g. My colleagues suggested that I should take an apartment in my community or atleast the property that is owned by someone from my country. For some reason, I was clear that I wanted to do completely opposite. I wanted to stay in central Toronto, where people from all over the world live together. With no apparent reason at that time, but I took an apartment in central Toronto on Bathurst Street close to Eglinton Avenue cross. It is only 5 minutes’ drive to CN tower. I like the area and used to go for evening walks. On my 1st day walking outside, I crossed someone and he smiled. I was confused. I looked around; maybe he knows someone who is behind me. None! I thought he must be crazy! Then I met another and another smile. This time I thought there might be something on my clothes. I stopped to check my T-shirts, shorts for some marks or some strange text. None! Then it happened with many others who I happened to cross. For sure I always shared a smile back. Initially it was a reluctant, confused, strange smile. I noticed that most of them had warmth in the smile and not just a quick short smile for the sake of formality. By and by I took over the effect. I started enjoying it. By the end of the walk, I was initiating the smile by my own and it stays longer on my face. A simple walk transformed into an amazing experience. Such is the power of smile. I was brought back to the school days when my smile was slowly subdued.
A smile can do wondersSmile brings a strange positive feeling in person. I can say this by own experience. I feel good about everything around it. I tend to connect with more positive activities and people. But for some reason as a species we at large we do not let it free. We want to control it. We do not want to have the lightness of feather that moves with small breeze. We force it to buy under the weight of reason. We have made it a controlled expression than a natural flow of bliss. But, if we always need a reason, then it lose its beauty. Once I read an article about Miss World Aishwarya Rai laughing at some concert or some other event. Author pointed out that how can such a training person laugh with such audacity with all its power in public. He pointed out that this is not a cultured/conditioned person that people expect. Now this is ridiculous. What kind of foolishness is this? A person heard a joke and he is not even allowed to laugh freely! We have created frameworks and pattern in which he/she is allowed to smile and laugh. Out of this, he does not fit in the prestige class. I have seen this for other expressions also. Once I heard a mother telling her crying child while they waiting for the bus/train to come, “Is this the way to cry outside?”. Now what kind of question is this to a child? If the kid understands and changes his tone, then mother is happy. But what about the child? His innocent is already damaged.
I meet many people while on the streets with which the only connection is share of smile. However, many are so deeply conditioned that they cannot share an innocent smile. Their smile comes as a sudden change of some muscles and is gone in a second. Some has so completely brain washed that idea of smile is alien to them. If you smile at them they give a strange expression back. They are like, are you crazy, we humans do not do such things. Sometimes, people have an expression of fear. Something like, if walking in a park, if you come across a strange animal. We as humans are probably the only or some of the species that can smile. So, please smile, smile with your heart in it. You will find that it stays with you and with other person also. If you do not get warm smile back, do not feel bad. Rather use it as another reason to smile on the ignorance of the person. Maybe one day everybody will be able to smile freely while meeting another person.

Keep Smiling

Arundeep Singh

Mulla Nasruddin was talking to a man and he said ‘My wife has a very bad memory.’
And the man asked ‘Do you mean she forgets everything?’
Mulla Nasruddin said ‘No, she remembers everything!’

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