Smile factory

Smile factory

I was famous as the girl who just didn't talk, but flourished her smile like a "Brahmastra."

“Hey, you girl, what are you grinning at? Why don’t you share the joke with the class?’’ glowered my Sanskrit teacher. Yet again, I had been caught on the wrong foot. My best friend, and classmate, had cracked a joke and I couldn’t resist smiling from ear to ear, while she, like the smart aleck that she was, kept a straight face as always. Meanwhile, I managed to get the punishment of the day – standing all through the Sanskrit period at the back of the class!

Even as I recall that incident today, I remember the countless times I got into trouble in school for doing nothing less than merely smiling at any and every occasion. I was famous back then as the girl who just didn’t talk, but, yes, flourished her smile like a “Brahmastra.” In the whole process, I made several very good friends, of course, but I got into some sticky situations ever so often too.

I still recall the time I was lamely smiling at something, when this “frenemy” of mine looked at my face and said what had better been left unsaid. “Oh, what a wide smile you have! When you smile, your teeth really jut out…’’ I glared at her and snapped back, “I don’t smile for you!” No, not exactly the most diplomatic answer of them all.

On another occasion, I joined this Equestrian Federation of India (EFI) camp. I used to be a painfully shy girl whose only recourse to “conversation” (if it could be called so!) was the smile. So, when a boy approached me and said “Hi, I want to be friends with you,’’ I immediately froze and gave a weak smile.

And, from thereon, things went downhill as I refused to open my mouth quite petrified, and the rest, as they say, is history. He realised that there was no way he could get a word out from me and scooted from there to try his luck with the other beauties.

That brings me back to the current scenario where I seem to have hit upon the humongous fixation of smiling at every Tom, Dick or Harry. My mother often jokes about this habit of mine remarking, “You know, your only idea of a conversation is giving a weak ineffectual smile, whipping it out of that “smile factory” of yours. When are you going to progress beyond that? Unless you try, you won’t be able to strike a conversation with anyone!”

I chose to ignore these golden words of wisdom and preferred to go the way of the “lone ranger” or rather the “lone smile bestower.” It is, of course, quite likely that I could just be a subject of much ridicule as strangers may find it amusing that I approach them with a smile at the drop of a hat. But well, I would like to dismiss it with a shrug, and philosophise in the immortal words of Victor Borge, “A smile is the shortest distance between two people.’’ Yes, that is the way I seek to bridge the gap between others and me – with my smile!

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