In blunderland

We all like people who mean what they say, but even more likeable are those who do not mean what they say. I am not talking about liars and cheats, who in Kipling’s language twist the truth to make a trap for fools. The good folks I am referring to are those who commit slips of the lips. Their remarks are funny, delightful and even thought-provoking.

Topping the list are those who indulge in hyperboles. Exasperated parents are prone to say, “I have told you a thousand times…” You could take the wind out of their sails by pointing out that this is next to impossible, but that would only land you in further trouble. “I am dying to…” and “This is something to die for…” are often heard, though it is common knowledge that ‘dying’ is something all of us would like to put off for another day. More on the list are, “We were scared to death,” “Stop that nonsense or I’ll kill you.” and “This thing weighs a ton.”

The classroom is fertile ground for ‘bloopers’. They are the teacher’s nightmare as well as diversion during the dull task of correcting papers. The children write answers that have been learnt but not fully understood and this makes for hilarious results. Examples are, “Buddha declared that the giving up of desires leads to salivation”, “Cinna was one of the constipators” and this, not without a hint at prevailing conditions, “Four aims mentioned in the preamble are: Justice, Equality, Liberty and Fertility.’

Teachers too fall victim to malice in Blunderland. While reprimanding her student, one of them blurted, “When you are talking to me, keep your mouth shut.” Another, upset with the many glaring errors in her English answers, demanded of her pupil, “And who taught you English in the previous class?” After a moment’s silence came the hesitant reply, “You, Miss.”

Day-to-day life is riddled with mystifying comments. Said the tourist guide to a bunch of eager travellers, “Follow me, I am right behind you!” Neither education nor status can prevent you from occasionally putting your foot into your mouth. Gerald Ford, former President of the USA is credited with this gem, “If Lincoln were alive today, he’d roll over in his grave.” All one can add to that is, “May he rest in peace!”

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