- Hello all!
I had a really nice experience when I visited my Nanna the other
week. Nan is 82 years old, but has retained what is often referred
to as "a twinkle in her eye" or "that mischievous look." To me, she
always has a sort of childlike look in her eyes, and loves to laugh
and joke about, especially at her grandchildren's expense. Her
wonderful sense of humour is one of her most endearing qualities.
It was around dinner time when I went to see her, and while she was
debating whether or not to eat the dinner she had just been served,
we started to reminisce about `the good old days,' back when my
brothers and cousins and I were all little children, and would spend
our school holidays at her tiny unit on Bribie Island, which is just
an hour and a half north of Brisbane. These were days of complete
freedom: swimming, biking, napping, eating lollies from the little
takeaway store down the road, and Nan was free to spoil and indulge
us without fear of parental backlash a bygone era of utter bliss!
We stumbled upon one particular memory that had us laughing so hard
we cried and woke up one of Nan's roommates, so I thought I'd share
it. It isn't one I'm likely to ever forget!
I was about five. One afternoon, my cousin, Tawnee, my Nanna and I
were all going for a walk down to the shops. Previously, this
required nothing more formal than a t-shirt and shorts, but for some
reason, Nan was particularly dressed up in a brand new white cotton
suit. Naturally a very stately looking woman, the crispness and
newness of her attire added to the overall air of regal ness about
her. She had also taken a great deal of care that day in advising my
cousin and I against wearing our usual outfits of shorts and t-
shirts, and had directed our tastes towards garments more becoming;
two blue-and-white dresses that were usually saved for church.
As the youngest in my family, and in the wider circle of cousins
(this particular cousin was two months my senior), I was naturally a
slave to various whims, schemes and often downright naughty plots.
Being at the time quite timid, I lacked the nous to put a stop to
what I knew were inevitably disastrous plans, certain to invoke the
wrath of even the most patient of beings. This was one of those
times. To be fair, I will never fathom why Nanna chose to dress us
up so tastefully that day. The walk to the shops was one we usually
made at least twice a day, and the clothes you wore at home were
always the ones you wore to the shops. Times were simple. But I'm
sure Nan had her reasons.
The first part of our walk passed by uneventfully: we arrived at
the shops, Nan bought us each an ice cream; we purchased some other
small items and then left. Nan proposed we walk home along the
beach. Ready to consent, I opened my mouth to say `yes', when Tawnee
said innocently "Why don't walk across the road to the park first?"
Nan agreed, but I remember even at this early stage sniffing danger.
We walked across to the park, which was really just a tiny
playground that backed onto a long strip of rainforest and a deep,
mud-filled gully. You could climb down the grassy banks and, keeping
to a worn dirt path, follow the gully through the forest for about a
kilometre or so, as we had often done before. A harmless, gentle
Predictably, when we reached the park Tawnee requested that we
climb down the banks and follow the gully through the forest. As we
descended the bank, I was gripped by an overwhelming sense of
anxiety, triggered by a child's intuition of knowing when mischief
is afoot. The anxiety rapidly turned into guilt as I realised I knew
exactly what was about to happen and wasn't doing a thing to stop
it. It was only in a matter of seconds before Tawnee gave Nan a firm
push into the gully, and Nanna, resplendent in her new suit of pure
white, fell squarely shoulder-deep into a large pool of mud and
I won't repeat the indignant, nay, enraged splutters emitted by my
Nanna that afternoon, as she repeatedly reached out her hand to be
unstuck and was as many times dropped back into the waste amidst
gales of hysterical, five-year old laughter. I can't adequately
describe the figure she struck when she finally emerged, small
patches of brilliant white suit still visible through the mud, and
lifted her chin defiantly into the air, grabbed us both by the arms,
scolded us for our naughtiness and marched us home along the beach
to avoid further public scrutiny.
Unfortunately, fate saw fit to be in a particularly impish mood
that day, and no sooner had we removed our shoes and stepped on to
the sand, then we found ourselves being chased by a vicious
Doberman, which barked aggressively at us and gave no sign of
retreating. At the age of five, dogs were my mortal fear, so I
promptly ran into the ocean, shoes waving wildly above my head, and
screamed hysterically in fear for my life. The three of us (Nan
trying to hold on to two five year olds, keep her shoes dry and
prevent us from all being mauled at the one time) were forced to
wade waist-deep, or shoulder deep for a five year old, in the rough
surf for nearly a kilometre until we reached home. The dog was in
the whitewash the whole time, barking and snapping at us. He must
have sensed two very naughty children. When we finally arrived home,
wet, sobbing, filthy and shocked, having made a terrified dash past
the dog, which still chased us up to the road, Nan discovered she'd
dropped the unit key somewhere on the beach, and had to run back and
find it before it got dark
Eighteen years later it's still funny. Nan, to her huge credit,
laughed harder than I did, and says she's never forgotten and will
never forget that day. I hope I can remain as cheerful and childlike
when I am her age!
Sri Chinmoy says about laughter
If you take your life
As a fleeting lightning-laughter,
Then no black evils
Can stop the flow
Of your heart-river.
(Excerpt from Ten Thousand Flower-Flames, Part 32 by Sri Chinmoy.)
My louder than the loudest laughter
One of my life-preservers.
(Excerpt from Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 1 by Sri
To read more of what Sri Chinmoy says about laughter, please visit