The giggles virus!!


Y

ou can have your chicken pox vaccination to ensure that you don’t fall ill just when it’s time for the annual play. The mumps and measles injection you had as a baby, protects you till adulthood. And as we speak, laboratories all over the world are working overtime to churn out something to prevent swine flu, bird flu and mad cow disease. But there’s one contagion that science has failed, miserably, in trying to treat -- it is the giggles.

Nothing spreads as fast as an outbreak of giggles. Studies have shown that within seconds, one loud giggler can infect an auditorium of 500 children. Strangely, this super-fast-spreading virus hits only the children in the room. While adults like principals and teachers, continue to look grim and frown through an entire epidemic. Very odd, indeed.

So as annual day approached in Military School, Mrs Raju, the English teacher, was quite unaware that an epidemic of giggles was bubbling below the surface. She had chosen a very serious play on the Indian Independence struggle. And she believed things were turning out quite well. True, now and then, as the climax of the play approached and many Indian leaders had to be ‘shot dead’ by the British, the children did tend to snigger a little. She couldn’t quite understand why…

But those acting in the play realised that the giggling virus had reached a very dangerous stage. Unlike the English teacher, the students of Std 8 knew exactly why they all burst out laughing together…uncontrollably. It was all Mrs Raju’s fault. Why had she cast Vinay, the naughtiest, funniest boy in class, as a serious freedom fighter? Every time he had to drop down dead, even though he was a perfect dead body, his classmates found ‘Vinay-as-a-serious-freedom-fighter’ dreadfully funny. The body of another ‘dead’ freedom fighter would start heaving uncontrollably, convulsed in silent giggles! Then, as that ‘dead body’ tried to somehow pretend its giggles were really ‘writhing in pain because of wounds from British bullets,’ another dead body would start quivering, and within seconds, the ‘cruel British’ too would have collapsed on the ground, giggling away!

The play was supposed to end on the sad note of dead bodies being carried off stage.

Then the lights dimmed, and a spotlight shone on Gandhiji at a spinning wheel, as a newsreader’s voice reported how British brutality had convinced Gandhiji to go on another hunger strike, till the British Government investigated why the police had fired on non-violent, silent protestors.  

With just a week to go before Annual Day, the ‘dead bodies’ held a quiet meeting after play practice. They realised that while convincing Mrs Raju that dead bodies just HAD to writhe and convulse in ‘pain’ before they actually ‘died’, all their friends in the audience on Annual Day would instantly recognise that it was really a case of the giggles. And that would set off Std 8 giggling in the audience, which would infect the Std 7s seated close by, and God knows where it would all end.

Vinay finally hit on the solution. He suggested they rewrite the end of the play. This was the plan -- if the giggle virus hit them, the ‘non-violent protest’ would turn ‘violent’.

Instead of lying limp as dead bodies, the ‘wounded’ gigglers would rise up and fight the British soldiers. In the violent scuffle and confusion, nobody would notice the laughter, and the play could end as an Indian victory, to the rousing shouts of ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai!’

If the giggle virus didn’t attack them, the play would end on Gandhiji’s quiet fast…

Phew! Std 8 felt a lot better, with this plan. Sure enough, on Annual Day, as Vinay dropped to the floor after being ‘shot’, Dead Body No 1, right beside him, began to ‘convulse in pain’.

The British soldiers knew their task…instead of ‘shooting’ any more potential gigglers, they ‘attacked’ the ‘still alive and writhing’ bodies on the floor. Soon, there was a right royal fight. The almost ‘dead’ rose up to overcome their ‘British tormentors’. And the play ended on an Indian victory!

Principal madam was very pleased. She leaned across to a poor, confused Mrs Raju to compliment her on her new, more positive ending to the play!   

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